Ferenc Tolvaly was born in Transylvania. He emigrated as an adolescent to Germany and completed his high school education in a Jesuit monastery near Munich. At the time, he seriously considered becoming a monk, but at the age of 21 he decided on a secular career.
He studied filmmaking at the renowned Munich Film School under Professor Wolfgang Längsfeld, who launched the careers of such world famous film directors as Wim Wenders and Werner Herzog. Tolvaly graduated from the school as a film director, producer and screenwriter. After working for a few years as a film director, he became the creative executive of an international advertising agency.
In 1990, following the fall of communism, he moved to Hungary and founded the first commercial television station, TV2, which he managed until 2002. After a very successful career he turned his back on the world of media and moved to a small mountain village in Spain. From then on he has devoted his life to writing, which is not altogether surprising since he had previously published two collections of poems and five books of prose.
Returning to the spiritual aspirations of his youth, he decided to walk the 780 km distance of El Camino, the pilgrimage in northern Spain. His novel El Camino – the Road was born of this life-changing experience. It became an instant bestseller in Hungary.
He continued his spiritual quest in Tibet, spending several weeks in Tibet’s most ancient monastery in Samye where few Westerners have ever been admitted. He participated in the ritual of circumambulating Mount Kailash, the holiest mountain of the Eastern religions and recorded his experiences in The Soul in Tibet. Two weeks after its release, the book jumped to the top of the Hungarian bestseller lists.
The enthusiastic reception made him aware that his spiritual quest will not be complete until he has discovered all five major world religions for himself.
Visiting a few Muslim countries, he devoted himself to the study of the most divisive religion of our times: Islam. His book, Bridge over the Bosphorus has proved to be yet another bestselling novel.
His novel, Banaras – the Gate, invites the reader to India, introducing the ancient, living world of Hinduism. The protagonist of the novel finds in Banaras the gate to the soul.
“Key to the Soul” released 2015, is a journey back in time. A descendant of Sephardic Jews, who left Spain at the end of the 15th century, travels into the past to discover his origins.
Ferenc Tolvaly’s credo is personal involvement: “You must walk the road yourself and never forget that it’s not the road that is difficult but the difficulty is the road itself.”
Tolvaly has also made feature-length documentary films of his spiritual journeys, which have been broadcast on German and Hungarian television stations.