Marta Meszaros


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Marta Meszaros (Hungary, 1931), an orphan since very young age who was raised in the Soviet Union by a foster mother and studied there until 1956, marrying Miklos Jancso in 1960, debuted with Eltavozott Nap/ The Day Has Gone/ The Girl (1968), the first Hungarian film to be directed by a woman. The film is about a spirited working-class girl who grew up in an orphanage. That was the first of many portraits of women, like the widow of Holdudvar/ Binding Sentiments (1969), oppressed first by her husband and then by her son, endless victim of a patriarchal society.

Szep Lanyok ne Sirjatok/ Pretty Girls don't Cry (1970) is about the rock generation.

A humble textile-mill girl falls in love with a wealthy student in Szabad Lelegzet/ Riddance (1973).

Orokbefogadas/ Adoption (1975) examines the friendship between a childless middle-aged widow and factory worker and a troubled and pregnant young woman.

Kilenc Honap/ Nine Months (1976) is about a peasant girl who moves to the city to work in a factory and falls in love with the foreman.

Ok Ketten/ The Two of Them/ Women (1977) is another story of unhappy women (played by Lili Monori and French actress Marina Vlady) at different stages of their lives who try to communicate and relate.

Olyan Mint Otthon/ It's Like Home (1978), her first collaboration with actress Zsuzsa Czinkoczi, and also starring Godard's favorite actress Anna Karina, is actually focused on a scientist, returning from abroad, in the middle of an existential crisis.

Útkozben/ On the Move (1979) was a Hungarian-Polish collaboration.

The Hungarian-French co-production Orokseg/ Les Heritieres/ The Heiresses/ The Inheritance (1980), starring Isabelle Huppert, is about a sterile woman hires a girl to have a child by her husband.

Anna/ Une Mere une Fille (1981) was another Hungarian-French co-production.

Delibabok Orszaga/ The Land of Miracles (1983) is an adaptation of Nikolai Gogol's "The Inspector General".

She then ventured into her "Diary" series of autobiographical stories, all of them photographed by her stepson Nyika Jancso. They thrive in an art of balance, counterpoint and constrast between the epic dimension (represented by the black-and-white footage of real events) and the intimate dimension (both the flashbacks set in vast disorienting environments and the turbulent present-time adventures). The first installment, Naplo Gyermekeimnek/ Diary for My Children (1984), shot in black and white, introduced her alter-ego (played by Zsuzsa Czinkoczi), a rebellious and stubborn teenager who witnesses the Stalin-era purges and falls in love with cinema.

Naplo Szerelmeimnek/ Diary for My Lovers (1987), shot in color (with flashbacks in sepia tone and vintage footage in the original black and white), follows the eighteen-year-old as she runs away from home, after being denied admission in Hungary, to study filmmaking in the Soviet Union. Naplo Apamnak Anvamnak/ Diary for My Father and Mother (1990) shows her returning to Hungary as an aspiring filmmaker in the fateful year of the failed revolution (1956).

The diaries are also rich in political commentary, that was unusual under communism.

She also directed: Bye Bye Chaperon Rouge (1989), an adaptation of Charles Perrault's "Little Red Riding Hood", A Magzat/ Foetus (1994), A Hetedik Szoba/ The Seventh Room (1995), A Szerencse Lanyai/ The Daughters of Fortune (1999), about an impoverished teacher who becomes a prostitute, the autobiographic Kisvilma/ Little Vilma (2000), a prequel to the "Diary" trilogy, A Temetetlen Halott/ The Unburied Man (2004), a biopic of Imre Nagy, Utolso Jelentes Annarol/ The Last Report on Anna (2009), a in which a communist emissary (male) tries to convince an exiled dissident (female) to return to Hungary, Aurora Borealis (2017), set again in the 1950s, as well as documentaries and TV movies.

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