FNE IN BERLIN: EFP Shooting Star Orsi Toth

By Anna Franklin in Berlin
    Hungarian actress Orsi Toth is an actress of few words, a rare thing in a profession where language and lengthy dialogues are the tools of the trade.

    {mosimage}Toth is attending the Berlin Film Festival for four days doing the rounds as one of European Film Promotion's Shooting Stars, the only one from central and eastern Europe to be selected following a change in the selection procedure this year.

    Toth came to international attention in Hungarian director Kornel Mundruczo's Pleasant Days produced by Budapest based Laurinfilm (www.laurin.hu) which won her the Best Supporting Actress award at the Hungarian Film Week (www.hungarianfilmweek.com) several years ago. Three years later the 27-year-old actress was in the spotlight again when Mundruczo's Johanna produced by Proton Cinema (www.protoncinema.hu) screened in Un Certain Regard in Cannes.

    But it was the huge international success of Mundruczo's Delta produced by Proton Cinema and coproduced by Germany's Essential Filmproduktion (www.coproductionoffice.eu) and Hungary's Film Partners (www.filmpartners.hu) that brought real international fame to the diminutive Toth.

    Talking to FNE in during the 59th Berlinale she explained something about how she approaches difficult roles such as the character she played in Delta.

    "I didn't really find it difficult. I prefer the kind of acting which is not acting, but just to be. I don't believe in 'acting' in the original sense of the word.

    "The biggest thing is to give yourself to the audience. On film the camera is so close that you just have to be yourself. You have to be as pure and honest as you can. When you play in film you can't lie," said Toth.

    That unique philosophy extends to some very interesting activities. Toth still works as a waitress in Budapest hopping tables when she has time between her busy work in theatre and in film. "It's to earn money. Hungarian actors are not that well paid, but its not just for earning money," says Toth. "It's also part of my philosophy of giving. It's good for the soul to give to people."

    This philosophy has apparently found resonance with many contemporary directors as Toth has a busy acting schedule and may have to give up her part-time restaurant work.

    She recently completed Lourdes directed by Jessica Hausner and Summer of 1953 directed by Shirin Neshat both produced by Essential Filmproduktion. Both are in English and both due for release in 2009.

    Acting in English is not really a problem says Toth. "I feel myself to be Hungarian. Even if I speak English I still feel Hungarian. Hungarian is such a rich language. We have 15 different words for love for example. A lot of my acting depends on body language. I really don't like speaking too much."

    Toth said she had no idea what would come of the busy round of Shooting Star activities that includes casting, photo shoots and parties, but that she was happy to have been chosen.

    More film offers are apparently already in negotiation. Meanwhile she said she needed to rush back to Budapest where she playing in Vladimir Sorokin's Ice and rehearsing two contemporary plays back to back both set to open in spring: Sarah Kane's Psychosys 4.48 and Arpad Shilling's Labour Hotel.

    Toth is single and laughs when asked if she has hobbies. "When would I have time??" {mosimage}