Mari Törőcsik, one of Hungary’s leading actors, died on Friday, at the age of 85, in Budapest after a long illness. She won best actress at the Cannes Film Festival, and appeared in two Oscar nominated films.
Törőcsik’s first international appearance was in 1956 at Cannes, where she starred in Zoltán Fábri’s Palme d’Or competitor “Körhinta” (Merry-Go-Round), playing a country girl in love with a peasant boy, battling against the opposition of her father to the relationship.
During the festival, Francois Truffaut, who was then a journalist with the weekly Arts, said he would have given her the best actress award, and Jean Cocteau also praised her performance. Truffaut wrote: “Without the 20-year-old artist knowing it, she was the biggest star of the festival.”
Since then she has played more than 100 roles. She worked with directors Fábri, Miklós Jancsó, Márta Mészáros and Károly Makk on multiple occasions.
Several of her films were in the official competition lineup at Cannes, including Fábri’s “Édes Anna” (Anna, 1959), Makk’s Jury Prize winner “Szerelem” (Love, 1971), for which she received a special mention, Jancsó’s “Szerelemem, Elektra” (Electra, My Love, 1975), Makk’s “Macskajáték” (Cats’ Play, 1974), Gyula Maár’s “Déryné, hol van?” (Mrs. Déry, Where Are You?, 1976), for which she won the best actress award, and Zsolt Kezdi-Kovacs’ “Visszaesok” (Forbidden Relations, 1983).
Törőcsik performed in two Hungarian films nominated for the best foreign language film Oscar, “A Pál utcai fiúk” (The Boys of Paul Street), Fábri’s adaptation of the novel by Ferenc Molnár, in 1969, and Makk’s “Macskajáték” (Catsplay) in 1975.
International audiences saw her again in Péter Gárdos’s “Szamárköhögés” (Whooping Cough), which won the top prize at the Chicago Film Festival in 1987, in Costa-Gavras’s Golden Bear winning “Music Box” in 1989, and in István Szabó’s Golden Globe nominated “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.
Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s Prime Minister, said on Facebook Friday: “Dear Mari! So you have left us. We have soared. Mari, we soared! God bless!”