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King Otto, directed by Christopher André Marks, recounts the Greek National Team’s incredible 2004 Euro Cup victory and is in theaters and on digital on Friday, March 25, Greek Independence Day. Photo: Courtesy of the filmmaker
NEW YORK – Greek-American director Christopher André Marks spoke with The National Herald about his background, his Greek roots, and his latest film, King Otto, which recounts the Greek National Football Team’s incredible victory in the 2004 European Championship. King Otto is in theaters and on digital on Friday, March 25, Greek Independence Day.
TNH: Tell us a bit about yourself, where were you born and raised? Did you always want to be a filmmaker?
Christopher André Marks: I grew up in California with my family working in the Latin music industry. I wanted to be an athlete as a kid but discovered film at an early age and began making home movies with my friends. I later went to film school at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and pursued film as a career. After graduation I went to work for ESPN Films, HBO Sports and HBO Documentaries.
TNH: Where in Greece is your family from originally?
CAM: My family is from all over in Greece, but Athens and, originally, the Peloponnese.
TNH: What inspired you to produce King Otto at this moment in time?
CAM: I’ve been wanting to tell this story since they won the Euro 18 years ago. I remember at the time how important it was and how unifying the year of 2004 was to not only Greeks in Greece, but for Greeks around the world. It was a special moment for us all where we felt like we were at the center of the universe. After the difficulties the country has gone through over the last decade, it felt like it was a great time to bring this uplifting story of hope and inspiration back to the forefront.
TNH: How long did the process take from idea to realization?
CAM: It took about three and a half years with the COVID delays and we began rolling out last year with the World Premiere in Melbourne, Australia. It then went on to release around the world in stages as we faced cinema lockdowns, but we are very much looking forward to bringing it to American theaters from March 25th, Greek Independence Day.
TNH: What was the most challenging aspect of making the film?
CAM: The multiple languages involved and the sheer amount of archival footage sourced from many different countries posed a significant challenge. We had to find that balance and tell a universal story that would work theatrically for audiences worldwide so that was something we embraced. The production was based between Munich, New York, London, and Athens, so in a way, the difficulties we faced as a production mirrored the narrative of the film. One of the central conflicts of the story is that Mr. Rehhagel speaks only German and the players speak Greek, so that cultural and language barrier had to be overcome to be successful both with the film and with the team in 2004.
TNH: What has been the most rewarding aspect?
CAM: The most rewarding aspect is seeing audiences react to the film so positively and seeing people in tears reliving their experience. We really learned firsthand how significant this story was for Greeks all over the world and it meant so much to us to be able to bring this team’s great achievement to the big screen for the first time. Another interesting aspect that we had not really considered prior to making the film is that this allowed a younger generation of Greeks to experience the story for the first time and we were proud to be able to share it with them.
TNH: How has the film been received so far?
CAM: It’s been really great. We were lucky to get some great reviews early on from top journalists at outlets like The Guardian, The Times, The Australian, etc. It really kind of helped us set the stage everywhere else for audiences to see this was a universal story and that it was a human story beyond just being an incredible underdog sports triumph.
TNH: What are you working on next?
CAM: We’re working on a feature narrative that will be shot in Greece soon. The country is really becoming a hot spot for foreign productions so we are looking forward to taking advantage of that and shooting our next film there as well.
King Otto is in theaters all across the USA and Canada and on digital on March 25.
PHILADELPHIA – The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Philadelphia and Greater Delaware Valley announced that the Evzones, the Presidential Guard of Greece will be participating in the Philadelphia Greek Independence Day Parade on March 20.
WASHINGTON — Nearly 50 defense leaders from around the world met Monday and agreed to send more advanced weapons to Ukraine, including a Harpoon launcher and missiles to protect its coast, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters.
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