Left to right: Giorgos Karagounis, Antonis Nikopolidis, Anna Eliopoulos, Stelios Taketzis, Otto Rehhagel, Ioannis Topalidis, and King Otto director Christopher André Marks. Photo by Eleni Sakellis
ASTORIA – On March 27, the Hellenic Film Society USA presented a sold-out screening of King Otto, the critically acclaimed documentary film about the miracle triumph of the Greek National Soccer Team at the 2004 European Championships, at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria. Following the screening, midfielder Giorgos Karagounis, goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis, head coach “King” Otto Rehhagel, assistant coach Ioannis Topalidis, and Greek-American director Christopher André Marks participated in a live interview and Q&A with the audience.
King Otto tells the improbable story of one of the biggest upsets in sports history. The Greek team, which defied the odds, was led by legendary German coach “King” Otto Rehhagel who, after major success in his own country, went to work with the underachieving Greek National Team in a language he didn’t speak, in a country he couldn’t understand.
“We are thrilled to be showing King Otto, which is a very exciting, well-crafted film,” said Jimmy DeMetro, president, Hellenic Film Society USA. “Coach Otto and the modern-day underdog Greek heroes in this moving film are almost a page out of Greek mythology.”
This beautiful film opens with a quote from Homer’s Odyssey: “Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide,” which sets the tone for the epic journey of Rehhagel and the Greek National Team. The emotionally charged film kept the audience on the edge of their seats, though everyone knew the outcome of the 2004 European Championship, Marks’ masterful direction and storytelling technique kept everyone riveted, a true testament to his skill as a filmmaker. The audience was so engrossed in the film, they applauded the goals as if they were happening at this very moment, and not 18 years ago. The compelling narrative, reliving the dramatic moments of the historic victory through archival footage and the fascinating details revealed, often with wit and charm, in the interviews with the players, coaches, and other key figures in the story make King Otto a must see film.
DeMetro gave the welcoming remarks at the screening and then introduced the director who thanked everyone for attending and for their support of the film. The audience showed their appreciation with prolonged applause at the conclusion of the film and then cheered for King Otto as he and the special guests made it to the stage for the interview and Q&A session. Moderated by Cosmos FM’s Stelios Taketzis and Anna Eliopoulos, the discussion highlighted the themes of the film, including how much can be accomplished when we believe in ourselves and when there is unity, and how much the Greek team’s victory was appreciated and celebrated by Hellenism around the world. As Marks noted, it is a human story about how two cultures came together for the greater good.
When asked if the players keep in touch, Karagounis responded that they do through the Legends 2004 nonprofit Champions For Life which aims to help those in need through various efforts. During the pandemic, they collaborated with the Greek State and other organizations on various functions, events, and social awareness activities in order to inform, educate, and motivate the public, with blood drives in Athens and Thessaloniki and the donation of portable respirator devices to the National Health System. Learn more on the Legends 2004 website: https://www.legends2004.com.
The King Otto screening was part of the monthly Always on Sunday Greek film series which began in 2018. More information about upcoming film screenings is available online: https://hellenicfilmusa.org.
NICOSIA — Ethnically divided Cyprus ranks first among European Union member nations in the number of migrants it repatriates relative to its population of just over a million people, the country's interior minister said Thursday.
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