A key figure of Hungarian cinema, Mészáros’ work has often focused on women’s lives in contemporary society. She began her career working on newsreels in Budapest and joined the Mafilm Group 4 film unit in 1966. Her feature film debut came in 1968 with The Girl, a poignant study of a young woman’s search for affection which staked out several of the director’s main themes. Here, and in later features such as Riddance (1973) and Adoption (1975), Mészáros brings stylish camerawork and finely tuned powers of observation to bear on contemporary sexual, psychological, social and inter-generational relationships.
She is perhaps best known for her autobiographical account of the Stalinist period, Diary for My Children (1982), which uses newsreel footage and clips from 1950s features to weave a complex, personal and political portrait of the era. Withheld from distribution in the West for two years, the film finally won a Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1984.