Menzel, Szabo celebrate 70th birthdays in Budapest (update)

By Gyorgy Karpati

Two legendary Central European film directors and Oscar winners, Czech Jiri Menzel and Hungarian Istvan Szabo, jointly celebrated their 70th birthdays in the Budapest cinema Oeroekmozgo on Feb. 18. The directors said that while it was a ceremonial moment in their lives, neither wants to retire and both have ideas and plans for forthcoming films.

"The reception was a great success," said Katalin Fejes, public relations officer for the Oeroekmozgo Cinema and the Hungarian Film Institute. "There was such a big crowd that many guests had to celebrate outside the movie theatre."

Menzel, who was born on Feb. 23 and Szabo, born on Feb. 18, have been friends for years. Szabo had a cameo role Menzel's latest film, I Served the King of England (2007).

Both directors have won Oscars for best foreign-language film - Menzel for Closely Watched Trains in 1966 and Szabo for Mephisto in 1981.

As part of the celebration, the Oeroekmozgo movie house presented Szabo's Mephisto and Menzel's Larks on a String (1969). Each toasted the other when their films were screened, and they celebrated with a huge cake decorated with the numerals "70."