Maria's Day

  • 113'
  • Hungary
  • 1984

On 6 September 1866, members of the Szendrey family meet in celebration of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Present are Ignác Szendrey; his daughter, celebrated writer Júlia, with her second husband, historian Árpád Horvát; her children from her first marriage to missing-presumed-dead Sándor Petőfi, most importantly moribund Zoltán; Júlia’s younger sister Mária with her husband, famed writer Pál Gyulai; and, last but not least, István Petőfi, the national poet’s younger brother.

It will be a day of confrontations over meals, as well as extensive, often volatile discussions leading to resolutions going nowhere, concerning the respective fates of Júlia and Zoltán. Four days later, Mária will be dead, but that's not part of Maria’s Day. During the film, she’s visibly already on the way – a spectre of a human, violently losing control over the remains of her life. Júlia will follow two years on; then two years later and Zoltán will have passed on, too. Everybody knows so – the characters as well as Hungarian audiences watching this dance of death of one of the nation’s most famous families. Decay and despair permeate every grain of the film. And every reaction against the inevitable is crude, tired, vulgar, needy and only too human at the same time.


Olaf Möller

Judit Elek
Country of production
Festival Edition
IFFR 2023
Original title
Judit Ordódy
Production Companies
Magyar Televízió, Objektív Film
National Film Institute Hungary
Luca Karall, György Pethö
Emil Novák
Anna Kornis
Production Design
Tamás Banovich
Sound Design
Péter Kovács
Gábor Csalog
Edit Handel, Éva Igó, Sándor Szabó, Imre Csiszár, Tamás Fodor

Programme IFFR 2023

Focus: Judit Elek

Judit Elek (1937) is among world cinema’s most uncompromising figures. Beloved by IFFR founder Huub Bals, yet to this day little known in wider circles, Elek made both fiction and documentary films that are almost brutally personal, reflecting as much the history of her native Hungary as her own trauma-riddled life. International Film Festival Rotterdam is honoured to present the most complete retrospective so far of an auteur whose works and wisdom are needed today as urgently as ever.

Read more about this programme