Courtesy: Flashback Media
The shooting of a feature length documentary on the most successful years of the Hungarian men’s water polo team is set to begin soon. Besides the action scenes from the archives, never-seen interviews and personal story-telling will pave the way to a new approach which shows the historical achievements from the players’ perspective. The film is produced and directed by Tamás S. Zákonyi with the support of several experts with one single goal: to catch the big picture and the tiniest details in the most proper way.
The documentary, featuring the well-known scenes from major championships as well as freshly recorded interviews, is to reveal the unique team spirit based on talent, teamwork, humbleness and ultimately love which led these brilliant players, coached by Dénes Kemény, to win three back-to-back Olympic titles, a World and two European Championship gold medals, two World League and a World Cup titles. Even more telling is that during these 12 years, the team reached the podium at 24 out of 25 major FINA/LEN events and in 329 matches it amassed 273 victories, besides 16 draws and 40 losses, to post a 85.16% winning percentage, a true mark of an overwhelming dominance.
The movie will feature all Olympic champion players like Tibor Benedek, Tamás Kásás, Gergely Kiss, Péter Biros, Tamás Molnár, Zoltán Szécsi (the magnificent six who are three-time Olympic champs), Rajmund Fodor, Attila Vári, Barnabás Steinmetz, Norbert Madaras, Tamás Varga, István Gergely, Zoltán Kósz, Zsolt Varga, Tamás Märcz, Bulcsú Székely, Ádám Steinmetz, Dániel Varga, Dénes Varga, Norbert Hosnyánszky and Gábor Kis – they all recall their memories from the glorious seasons.
Director-producer Tamás S. Zákonyi has been working in the film industry for more than 35 years. He directed the documentary on Hungary’s legendary five-time Olympic champion swimmer Krisztina Egerszegi and he was among the producers of Steven Spielberg’s Munich, and the movie Children of Glory, on the 1956 uprising which has a strong bond with the Olympic winning water polo team at the Melbourne Olympics. Co-directors Ottó Elek and Balázs Eckhardt, and Tamás Babos, director of photography are making the core of the film making team, while Gergely Csurka, who followed the team as a correspondent and wrote several books on their successes, is responsible for recalling the past credibly and punctually.
“Though the results are well-known, we would like to dig deeper and show the true process of shaping a great team” said Zákonyi at a recent press conference held at the Danubius Hotel Helia. “We have one goal, that is to find a new perspective, a more personal one, through the stories of the players on joint efforts and individual battles, the struggles and the tremendous work behind each single medal.”
“It’s an honour to be part of this undertaking, to go through the most successful years of a legendary team once more. At the same time, it’s a huge responsibility as a story like this can only be documented in the most precise way” he added.
“It’s an awesome feeling to get together with all the team-mates once again and recall the fondest memories of my career” Olympic champion Gergely Kiss said. “And it’s even more fantastic that the best moments of our greatest games and these brand new in-depth interviews are going to go to the big screen.”
In an emotional moment, the filmmakers also announced that they had plenty of archive Q&A-s with Tibor Benedek who passed away last year, so the legend of the sport would have a deserved part in the documentary. “Indeed, I did some recording with the team for some years after 2000 and ever since I always planned to launch the shooting but never lined up for the real start – up until last June” Tamás S. Zákonyi confessed. “Then happened what happened, we were queuing up with several thousand people on the Margaret Island to lay our flowers and lit the candles in front of Tibor’s photo… And we stood there with some of the greats, in tears, when Tamás Molnár dropped: ‘What are you still waiting for?!’ That was the moment I decided: it was really time to go ahead.”
The documentary is supported by the National Film Institute (Nemzeti Filmintézet) and according to the plans, it is expected to hit the theatres in December 2022, in association with Forum Hungary.