THE 61ST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF DOCUMENTARY AND SHORT FILM OF BILBAO–ZINEBI AWARDS THE MIKELDI OF HONOUR TO THE PRESTIGIOUS HUNGARIAN FILM-MAKER MÁRTA MÉSZÁROS IN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF HER CONTRIBUTION TO CONTEMPORARY CINEMA AND HER ARTISTIC PERSEVERANCE IN FAVOUR OF EQUALITY

ZINEBI will screen a selection of her most important work at the Fine Arts Museum, including the film Örökbefogadás (Adoption, 1975), the restored copy of which premiered at the latest Berlin festival. It was the first Hungarian film ever to compete in Berlin, winning the Golden Bear for Best Film in 1975 and making Márta Mészáros the first woman to receive this award.

ZINEBI 61 will take place from 8 to 15 November and the award will be presented at the Teatro Arriaga, the main festival venue, during the closing gala, which will begin at 8 p.m.

The International Festival of Documentary and Short Film of Bilbao (ZINEBI)—organised by Bilbao City Council—will award the Mikeldi of Honour to the Hungarian film-maker Márta Mészáros in acknowledgement of the work and contribution to contemporary cinema of a woman who has managed to find in the imagery of her films some of the primary motives of her perseverant artistic and life endeavours in favour of equality between men and women. She will receive the festival’s tribute during the ZINEBI 61 closing gala, which will take place at the Teatro Arriaga in Bilbao on 15 November, starting at 8 p.m.

The extensive cinematographic work of Márta Mészáros (Kispest, Hungary, 1931), the first woman to film a feature film in Hungary, in 1967, has been characterised by her constant interest in women and their different realities as daughters, mothers, wives, workers, friends and lovers, captured by her camera at work and in their everyday desire to understand themselves and the world around them.

Recently graduated in Moscow in 1956, she made her first short film, Ujra mosolyognak (Smiling Again), which marked the start of her intense activity making short films, which were almost always documentaries. During this long creative period, Márta Mészáros had two main sources of inspiration: firstly, painting and sculpture – a series of films dedicated to the work of painters such as János Tornyai and Victor Vasarely and sculptors such as Miklós Borsos; and secondly and much more significant when it comes to understanding the underlying intention of her work as a whole was her childhood and adolescence – a series of short films showing a vision of great lyrical and humanist depth brimming with vitality, which would continue in her subsequent filmography as a director of feature-length films.

The first of these was Eltávozott nap (The Girl) (1968), the first Hungarian film directed by a woman, which was an early example of her interest in looking at woman and the material and spiritual conditions of their existence. This film won the Special Jury Award at the Valladolid International Film Festival.

This debut film coincided with a time of profound renewal in Hungarian cinema, in the wake of the French Nouvelle vague, led by established film-makers such as György Révész, Miklós Jancsó, Istvan Szabó and György Hintsch, along with Mészáros herself as a new director. With her second feature film, Holdudvar (Binding Sentiments) (1968), she gained more formal and thematic freedom for continuing to tackle strictly female circumstances and issues, which she was able to focus with great capacity for poetic expression, tenderness and empathy.

In 1975, she began filming Örökbefogadás (Adoption), a decisive work within her prolific career and for which she obtained the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival and unanimous acclaim from international critics. This film made Márta Mészáros the first female director to win this award. The following year, 1976, she was awarded by The International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) in Cannes for Kilenc Hónap (Nine Months), with a cast featuring the Polish actor Jan Nowicki, the star of most of her films. In 1978, she directed Olyan mint otthon (Just Like Home)—starring Nowicki, again, alongside the French actress Anna Karina—which obtained the Silver Shell at the San Sebastián International Film Festival in 1979.

In 1984, Márta Mészáros decided to take on her most personal project: a trilogy about her childhood and her family history generically entitled Diary, the first part of which, Napló gyermekeimnek (Diary for My Children), won the Gran Prix at the Cannes Festival. This first part was followed by Napló szerelmeimnek (Diary for My Lovers) (1987), awarded with the Silver Bear at the Berlinale, and Napló apamnak, anyamnak (Diary for My Mother and Father) (1990).

During production of this trilogy, she entered the Official Section to compete in the 28th year of what was then known as the International Documentary Film and Short Film Contest of Bilbao with her short documentary film Ave Maria, a striking tribute to the millions of immigrant men, women, boys and girls in the USA and their struggle to find a better life. This film contained a guest appearance by the great British actress Julie Christie.

In 2004. she directed A temetetlen halott (The Unburied Man) about the politician Imre Nagy, the Hungarian prime minister at the time of the massive protests of the anti-communist revolution in 1956. In 2007, she received the Berlinale Camera from the Berlin Festival for her cinematographic work as a whole.

With the collaboration of the Hungarian National Film Archive, which has restored the majority of the director’s work, ZINEBI 61 is going to show a selection of the most significant works in Márta Mészáros’s filmography, including the short film Mészáros László emlékére ( In Memoriam László Mészáros, 1978 ), Eltávozott nap (The Girl, 1967), Örökbefogadás (Adoption, 1975), Szép lányok, ne sírjatok! (Don´t Cry, Pretty Girl! 1970) and Napló gyermekeimnek (Diary for My Children, 1984). The screenings will take place at the Fine Arts Museum on the days leading up to the award of the Mikeldi of Honour. Márta Mészáros herself will attend the screening at 7 p.m. on 14 November.

PRESS ACCREDITATION:
APPLICATION PERIOD FROM 1 TO 27 OCTOBER, VIA THE FESTIVAL WEBSITE: http://zinebi.eus/web/prensa/acreditaciones/