Hungarian Actress in the Spotlight: Orsolya Toth

By Laszlo Kriston

    Recently named as the Shooting Star representing Hungary at the upcoming Berlinale, Orsi Toth (as she is often billed) has been at the core of all but one of the gritty films made by Hungarian auteur, Kornel Mundruczo.

    Something of a Hungarian Jean Seberg, or at least a rural version of the late French actress with her boyishly slender figure and characteristically short hair (often enchanced by razor blade), she has been providing understated (and wordless) performances of uncomplicated girls in Mundruczo's movies, starting with his second movie, Silver Leopard winner Pleasant Days (2002) when she was still a student. Their collaboration continued through two short films, and A 78-as szent Johannaja (2003), which was later expanded into a feature, Johanna (2005, selected for Un Certain Regard), and more recently the Cannes competition entry Delta (2008), giving both actress and director a media coverage in the Hungarian press unparalleled to any previous Mundruczo films, all risque arthouse fare.

    Plain and fragile in appearance, and standing as an antidote to the glamorous look female leading roles normally call for, the 27-year-old actress has remained active in the Budapest theater world, appearing at several highly-regarded troupes in productions ranging from academic to experimental, while she also alternated her central role in Mundruczo's poetic universe with secondary parts in more commercial movies.

    Pleasant Days earned her a prize at the Angers Premier Plans Festival and at the Hungarian Film Week. The latter honored her again for Johanna, followed by the best actress award in Puchon and the Fantasporto Film Festival.

    Further credits include The Class (2008), A Veinhageni rozsabokrok (TV, 2007), Buhera matrix (2007), 2005 kaosz (2006), Kozuti karbantartok (2006), My One and Onlies (2006), Better Halves (2006), Elveszett targyak (2005), Lost and Found - Shortlasting Silence (omnibus film, 2005), Zarin (2005), Fateless (2005), A Feny osvenyei (2005), Little Apocrypha No 2. (2004), Colossal Sensation! (2004), Nyari delutan (2003), Jott egy busz (omnibus film, 2003), The Bridgeman (2002), Wake Up Mate, Don't You Sleep (2002), and Nuker (2002).