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Istvan Szabo

Hungarian director István Szabó has won worldwide acclaim from both critics and audiences, not only for the extraordinary beauty of his impressive slate of films, but also for the historic and contemporary importance of the messages that they carry within their social and political themes. After graduating as a film director from Hungary's prestigious Academy of the Art of Theatre and Film he went on to direct his first feature film, aged 26, in 1964. The Age of Daydreaming, which won Szabó the Silver Sail at Locarno and a Special Jury Prize for Best Director at the Hungarian Film Festival, made him a leading figure in a new generation of Hungarian filmmakers in the ‘60's and 40 years on he retains his position as one of the principal forces within the country's film industry.

His numerous feature film awards and nominations include: Special Jury Prize, Locarno and Best Director from the Hungarian National Film Festival for Father; Grand Prix of the Jury, Locarno for 25, Fireman Street, Silver Bear, Berlin and Academy Award nomination for Confidence; Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, FIPRESCI Best Screenplay Award at Cannes and Film Critics Awards from Britain, Italy and Poland for Mephisto; Cannes Special Jury Prize, BAFTA for Best Foreign Language Film and Academy Award nomination for Colonel Redl, Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film for Hanussen and Silver Bear, Berlin and European Screenwriter Award for Sweet Emma, Dear Böbe.

Producer Robert Lantos' first collaboration with director was the phenomenally acclaimed Sunshine which, like most of Szabó's films, he had scripted himself. Starring Ralph Fiennes, supported by a deeply gifted international cast, the film struck a cord with audiences and critics alike as it fearlessly tackled prejudice, the holocaust and revolution through the eyes of three generations of a Jewish Hungarian family. Bold, brave and beautiful, the film garnered numerous awards and nominations including; 3 European Film Awards; Genie Award for Best Motion Picture; three Golden Globe nominations including Best Motion Picture and Best Director; US Political Film Society Democracy Award and 14 nominations for Canadian Genie Awards. More recently, Szabó directed Taking Sides taken from the play by, and with a screenplay by, Ronald Harwood. Szabó won a Jury Prize for the film from the International Festival of Action and Adventure Films, France and a Silver Ombú Award for Best Director from the Mar del Plata Film Festival, Argentina.

Szabó's award winning short films include: Variations on a Theme, Concert, You, Dream About a House and City Map. He won the Outstanding Achievement Award at Montreaux for his TV film Offenbach's Secret and his other television work includes Premiere, The Green Bird, Catsplay, Bali and Steadying the Boat. He is also an accomplished stage director and has directed several operas including Tannhäuser for Opera de Paris, Boris Godunow for Opera Leipzig and Il Trovatore for the Vienna State Opera.

Besides his directing, Szabó is also a Guest Professor at various film schools including London, Berlin and Vienna, where he lectures in film-history.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2005.
Read earlier biographies on this page.

Istvan Szabo Facts

BirthdayFebruary 18, 1938 (85)
BirthplaceBudapest, Hungary

Selected Filmography

Not available.