Sunday, August 17, 2014

Women in Film: Márta Mészáros

By Olivia Maria Hărşan

A screenwriter/film director status is rare for a woman in the film industry, let alone in Eastern Europe, and yet Márta Mészáros still managed to hold these titles, producing powerful narratives, gaining international recognition and awards along the way. Márta's career began in the then-popular field of documentary filmmaking that transformed into realism. Fellow Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr had also excelled in the 'wave' of realist cinema that boomed in Hungary during the late-70s, before changing his style drastically, as noticed in his transitional feature, Almanac of Fall/ Őszi almanach (1984). Similar to Tarr, Mészáros tweaked the dogme of documentary/realist filmmaking by adding her own stamp of auteurship, portraying evocative topics ranging from denial of the past to gender norms. Her protagonists are always women that come from broken backgrounds - perhaps drawing from personal experiences growing up as an orphan in the USSR after the murder of her father, the sculptor László Mészáros, under the Stalinist regime. Diary for my Children/ Napló gyermekeimnek (1984) is her most successful film to date, for which she won the Grand Prix Spécial du Jury (today known simply as Grand Prix) at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival.

Márta with former husband Miklós Jancsó 

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