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Biography #2

Istvan Szabo directs his most epic and romantic film to date with SUNSHINE, a chronicle of the 20th century told through the tales of a remarkable family's lives and loves. Szabo has won over 60 major international awards, including the 1981 Academy Award for Mephisto, three additional Academy nominations, a British Academy Award, the David de Donatello Award, four awards from the prestigious Cannes International Film Festival and twice winning the Silver Bear of Berlin.

Szabo is firmly established as one of the most distinguished and influential filmmakers of his generation and is also renown for writing almost all his own screenplays. Throughout his career Szabo has stayed loyal to his home country of Hungary and still lives and works in his beloved Budapest, the city where he was born in 1938.

His career began at the Budapest Film School from which he graduated in 1961, gaining almost immediate acclaim for his student and early short films. His first short film was Concert (1961) for which he received recognition in his home country, winning the Hungarian Critics Award. His other short films include You, for which he won a Diploma of Merit from the Cannes Film Festival at the age of 25, and City Map in 1977, which won him the Grand Prize at the Oberhausen Film Festival.

Szabo made his first feature film in 1964 with the lyrical The Age of Daydreaming which won the Silver Prize at the Locarno Film Festival. In his next two pictures, Szabo focused on themes of childhood and developing maturity - with the highly regarded The Father (1966) which received 6 awards, including the Hungarian Film Critics' Award and the Locarno Special Prize, and Love Film (1970). Later in the 1970's Szabo's films dealt with themes about his parents' generation with Fireman Street (1973) and Budapest Tales (1976).

In 1979, Szabo formed a working partnership with cinematographer Lajos Koltai that was to prove both enduring and hugely influential. Together they embarked on Confidence, the film which won Szabo international acclaim, including his first Academy Award nomination. SUNSHINE marks their eleventh collaboration. In the early 1980s, Szabo created the ground-breaking film Mephisto, starring Klaus-Maria Brandauer as the egocentric actor who is consumed by his lust for success; a film which won nearly 20 awards, including the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Brandauer went on to star in Szabo's next two pictures: the mesmerizing Colonel Redl in 1985 and Hanussen, the haunting story of a charismatic clairvoyant, in 1988. These two films earned the director further critical acclaim and won him a string of awards, including the 1985 Cannes Jury's Award for Colonel Redl and two further Academy Award Nominations.

Szabo directed his first English-language film, Meeting Venus in 1990, starring Glenn Close. In 1991 he made the poignant Sweet Emma, Dear Bobe, the moving story of two young women, struggling to survive in post-Communist Budapest which won four major European Awards, including the Silver Bear of Berlin.

Earlier this year, SUNSHINE won a prize given by the Foreign Film Critic's Awards in Budapaest as well as 3 European Film Awards including Best Screenplay for Istvan Szabo, Best Actor for Ralph Fiennes, and Best Cinematography for Lajos Koltai. SUNSHINE also won 3 Genie Awards in Canada including Best Picture.

Bio courtesy Paramount Classics (01-Jan-2000)