Mari Törőcsik, one of Hungary’s most prominent actors who won Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival and starred in two Oscar-nominated films, died on Friday in Budapest after a long illness. She was 85.
Törőcsik’s first international appearance was at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival where she starred in Palme d’Or contender Körhinta (Merry-Go-Round), from director Zoltán Fábri. In that film, she played a young farmer girl who falls in love with a peasant boy against her father’s wishes.
Francois Truffaut, who was then a journalist with the weekly Arts, said he would have given her the Best Actress Award and French poet Jean Cocteau also praised her talent. Truffaut wrote: “without the twenty-year-old artist knowing it, she was the biggest star of the festival.”
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Over the past half century, she played more than 100 roles. She worked with Fábri as well as Miklós Jancsó, Márta Mészáros and Károly Makk on multiple occasions.
Many of her films were screened at the Cannes Film Festival and she captivated audiences on the Croisette in films such as Fábri’s Édes Anna (Anna), Jancsó’s Szerelemem, Elektra (Electra My Love), Makk’s Szerelem (Love) and Gyula Maár’s Déryné, hol van? (Mrs. Déry, Where Are You?).
In 1971 she came close to snapping up the Cannes Best Actress Award for her moving portrayal in Makk’s Jury Prize winning Szerelem (Love) but it wasn’t until 1976 that she cinched the prestigious award for her role in Déryné, hol van? (Mrs. Déry, Where Are You?), where she played an ageing theater actress.
Törőcsik also performed in two Hungarian films nominated for a Best Foreign Language Oscar, Zoltán Fábri’s adaptation Ferenc Molnár’s novel, A Pál utcai fiúk (The Boys of Paul Street) in 1968, and Macskajáték (Catsplay) by Makk in 1975.
International audiences saw her again in the 1984 film Szamárköhögés (Whooping Cough) by Péter Gárdos, which won the top prize at the Chicago Film Festival in 1987, in Costa Gavras’s Golden Bear-winning Music Box in 1989 and Oscar-winner István Szabó’s Napfény íze (Sunshine).
Her final film appearance was the lead role in Mészáros’ historical drama Aurora Borealis – Északi fény (Aurora Borealis – Northern Lights) in 2017.
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban commented on her death on his Facebook page on Friday saying, “Dear Mari! So you have left us. We have soared, Mari, we soared! God bless!
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