István Szabó was the first director to bring home to Hungary the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. The movie receiving the award was his 1981 film Mephisto. In January 2006, it became public that he had been an agent of the III/III department, a former communist agency of interior intelligence. After the revolution in 1956, he was blackmailed and forced to cooperate, though later he was considered willingly cooperative. Allegedly, he wrote reports about fellow Hungarian directors, actors, and actresses such as Miklós Jancsó, Mari Töröcsik, Károly Mécs. Szabó has never denied the charges and considers his agent work heroic and needful, claiming he saved the life of a friend sentenced to death for his involvement in the revolution of 1956.
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