Music drives this loose narrative of youth culture with a romance at its heart. Searching for their identity, a group of friends explore new ways to live, seeking independence from state and patriarchal family values. What happens when a young woman refuses to be defined by these? A strong sense of female agency drives the camera’s point of view and our gaze.
Don’t Cry, Pretty Girls! is itself contemporary with the realities of international youth culture and rebellion against the parental world. The oppositional culture of rock music is given its due as a harbinger of social dissatisfaction; Mészáros’ masterful use of lyrics and melody itself constitutes the contestatory statement she clearly intends to make.
Catherine Portuges quoted in Eszter Fazekas, Restored Films of Márta Mészáros, National Film Institute Hungary – Film Archive
The film analyses the gradually loosening social structures in the Beat age within the framework of Mészáros’ concerns – women’s desire for freedom – while the biggest 1960s Beat bands play in the background. The film is an accurate testimony of the partying/depressive atmosphere pervading Europe in the wake of the suppression of the various 1968 popular movements.
Márta Mészáros occupies a unique position in Hungarian and world film history. The director, Kossuth and Prima Prize laureate, winner of awards at Berlinale, Chicago, Cannes and many other international film festivals, is herself a legend. Together with her contemporaries Agnès Varda, Larisa Shepitko and Věra Chytilová, she ranks as one of the most significant female filmmakers in the world. The first Hungarian woman to be awarded a diploma in film directing, her movies depict the lives of women, their identity, deviance, female rebelliousness, erotic intimacy as well as Hungarian Stalinism.
Even as a young orphan child she struggled with hunger and the vicissitudes of history. She was born in Budapest in 1931. Her father, the avant-garde sculptor László Mészáros, in fleeing fascism moved the family to Kirgizia, where on the outbreak of World War II he fell victim to Stalin’s purges. Her mother also died. She was placed in a Soviet orphanage and only returned to Hungary after the war. Between 1954 and 1956 she studied at the film academy in Moscow and until 1968 she made Romanian and Hungarian documentaries. These autobiographical motifs inspired her Diary series, which met considerable international acclaim.
In 1968, she directed her first full-length film The Girl. With her following works Don’t Cry, Pretty Girls!, Riddance, Adoption, Nine Months and The Two of Them, Márta Mészáros depicts – in a non-judgemental and unaffected way – the process where something great and simple happens in the lives and relationships of her self-aware, rebellious female protagonists, forcing them to make decisions.
These films were instant international hits. In 1975, Márta Mészáros won a Golden Bear at the Berlinale for Adoption, being awarded to a female director and also Hungarian director for the very first time in the history of the Berlinale. Nine Months took an OCIC prize at the Berlinale and a FIPRESCI prize at Cannes in 1977 and this opened the way to international co-productions.
The Heiresses, made in a coproduction, reveals a historical background behind remarkable love triangle relationships. Then came the Diary tetralogy, of which the first, Diary for My Children, won the Grand Prix Speciale du Jury at Cannes in 1984.
In 2004 Mészáros directed Unburied Man, a film about Imre Nagy, the leading figure of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Her latest work, Aurora Borealis (2017), which has been awarded with several international awards, looks back to the Soviet occupation of Vienna through an unusual mother-daughter fate.
Eszter Fazekas, Restored Films of Márta Mészáros, National Film Institute Hungary – Film Archive
DON’T CRY, PRETTY GIRLS! (SZÉP LÁNYOK NE SÍRJATOK)
Director: Márta Mészáros
Production Company: Mafilm Studio 1
Chief Production Manager: Ottó Föld
Production Manager: József Bajusz
Head of Studio: Szilárd Újhelyi
Screenplay: Péter Zimre
Story Editor: Yvette Bíró
Cinematographer: János Kende
Assistant Cinematographer: Béla Langmár
Assistant Directors: Dezső Koza, Mária Luttor
Editor: Zoltán Farkas
Art Director: Tamás Banovich
Composers: Levente Szörényi, János Baksa Soós, Zorán Sztevanovity, Károly Frenreisz, László Tolcsvay, Miklós Orszáczky
Sound Directors: György Pintér, Gyorgy Kovacs
Jarka Schallerová (Juli Keresztes)
Márk Zala (István Bencsik ‘Savanyú’)
Lajos Balázsovits (Géza, musician)
Petér Blaskó (Juli’s brother)
István Bujtor (policeman)
Ildikó Piros, Ila Schütz (Juli’s friend)
Balázs Kosztolányi (Savanyú’s friend)
Lajos Vass (researcher of folklore music)
Lajos Tándor (man in café)
ORDINARY PEOPLE, EXTRAORDINARY LIVES
THE CINEMA OF MÁRTA MÉSZÁROS
Don’t Cry, Pretty Girls! (Szép lányok, ne sírjatok!)
Wed 7 Jul 17:40; Sun 18 Jul 18:40
Woman With a Movie Camera Presents: the World Restoration Premiere of Riddance (Szabad lélegzet)
Sat 10 Jul 17:30 (+ pre-recorded extended intro by Márta Mészáros); Wed 21 Jul 21:00
Mon 12 Jul 18:00 (pre-recorded intro by Selina Robertson, Club des Femmes); Thu 22 Jul 20:30
Nine Months (Kilenc hónap)
Tue 13 Jul 17:40; Sun 25 Jul 12:30
The Two of Them/Two Women (Ök ketten)
Wed 14 Jul 20:50; Mon 26 Jul 18:10
The Girl (Eltávozott nap)
Fri 16 Jul 20:50
Binding Sentiments (Holdudvar)
Sat 17 Jul 15:20
The Heiresses (Örökség)
Sun 18 Jul 15:20; Tue 27 Jul 20:30
Diary for My Children (Napló gyermekeimnek)
Sat 24 Jul 14:10 (+ pre-recorded extended intro by Márta Mészáros); Wed 28 Jul 17:50
Diary for My Loves (Napló szerelmeimnek)
Sat 24 Jul 17:30; Sat 31 Jul 20:30
Diary for My Father and Mother (Napló apámnak, anyámnak)
Sat 24 Jul 20:45; Sat 31 Jul 14:40
The restorations in this season were made from the original camera negatives, original magnetic tape sounds and positive prints, supervised and presented by the National Film Institute Hungary – Film Archive. The restorations were carried out at the NFI Film Archive and Filmlab.
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Programme notes and credits compiled by the BFI Documentation Unit
Notes may be edited or abridged
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