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Culture

Thunderous Applause for King Otto in Red Carpet US Premiere at MoMA

NEW YORK – Emotion, nostalgia, hope, and a note of optimism – the official premiere of the film King Otto in the U.S., had it all – a glorious journey through time and emotions, dressed in the magical images of the unique triumph of the Greek National Soccer team, combined with the presence of key players from that very team, the architect of success, legendary coach Otto Rehhagel to whom the film is dedicated, his assistant coach, Giannis Topalidis, and two of the footballers, Giorgos Karagounis and Antonis Nikopolidis, who brought joy to millions of Greeks around the world with their victory.

The premiere took place at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the packed audience followed the vision of Greek-American director Christopher André Marks and felt as if they had entered a time machine: they applauded the goals of the National team again, they appreciated the characteristic quips of the interviewees, and took the opportunity to say, even almost 20 years later, a great “thank you” to the German coach, who showed us that everything is possible.

“It seems the audience liked it. It was very nice. This was also evident from the great amount of applause,” Rehhagel himself told The National Herald as he was exiting the screening.

The premiere of King Otto was held on March 23 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Photo: TNH/ Zafeiris Haitidis

The film, in essence, was a flashback to Rehhagel’s journey, based, of course, on the journey of the National Team of Greece, during the period from his recruitment, at the end of the failed 2002 World Cup qualifiers, until the historic triumph over Portugal. Through interviews and archival material, well-known and less well-known details are revealed from the path of a team which, in a combination of tactical approach, discipline and talent, achieved perhaps the greatest surprise of all time in world soccer, with the leadership of the German coach.

Among those appearing in the film were former president of the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) Vassilis Gagatsis, Ioannis Topalidis and the famous players Giorgos Karagounis, Antonis Nikopolidis, Giourkas Seitaridis, Takis Fyssas, and Traianos Dellas. The main character, Rehhagel himself, spoke with disarming honesty – but at times with characteristic humor – about his historical presence on the bench for National Greece.

“We had a team spirit. Certainly the emotions are beautiful. But the important thing is that a friendship has been created between us, which lasts for our whole life,” Rehhagel told TNH.

Prior to the screening, there was an official red carpet event, as well as a Q&A session, presented by well-known Greek-American news anchor Ernie Anastos. Among those present were Ambassador of Greece to the U.S. Alexandra Papadopoulou, the new US Ambassador to Athens George Tsounis, Consul General of Greece in New York Dr. Konstantinos Koutras, Consul of Greece Dimitris Papageorgiou, Federation of Cypriot American Organizations Board member Tasos Zambas, lawyer Tasos Pardalis and his wife Maria Pardalis- founder and CEO of Elle Media Lab, Greek-American director George Stephanopoulos, and other well-known Greek-Americans.

The film is distributed by MPI Media Group, and on Sunday, March 27, 3 PM, another screening, in the presence of the film’s director and the players and coaches, will take place at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, presented by the Hellenic Film Society USA with a discussion to follow the screening. More information and tickets available online: https://hellenicfilmusa.org and by phone: 347-934-9497.

New U.S. Ambassador to Greece George Tsunis at the King Otto premiere on March 23 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Photo: TNH/ Zafeiris Haitidis

Antonis Nikopolidis was one of the most crucial players on the road to triumph. Being the main and irreplaceable goalkeeper, he successfully defended the goal for Ethniki in the critical points and contributed the most not only to the conquest of the European Championship, but also to the stability shown by the “blue and white” in the following years.

“It’s a very nice effort by Chris,” Nikopolidis said. “He really brought to the screen very important events and, above all, it conveyed the journey of a man – I’m talking about Otto Rehhagel – from the moment he arrived in Greece until the moment he celebrated the European trophy.”

Left to right: Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras, new U.S. Ambassador to Greece George Tsunis, King Otto director Christopher André Marks, and Ambassador of Greece to the U.S. Alexandra Papadopoulou. Photo by Anastassios Mentis / Mentis Studio

“This event brings back great memories, because it is for us a moment of pride, not only for us who lived it but also for all Hellenism that experienced it, enjoyed it, and celebrated it in all parts of the world,” Nikopolidis noted.

Regarding the current National Team of Greece and the fact that it has been without success for the last eight years, the veteran international goalkeeper Nikopolidis pointed out that there is talent, but the mentality of the winner that Otto Rehhagel imparted to his own team is missing.

“I will agree that we still have quite good footballers. I think what is missing is the mentality of the winner, which we do not have lately in the team. We have to get it, because the National Team has a very big heritage now to live up to. It is not only the Cup but also the continuous appearances until 2014. We must start building this mentality in the players – because, I repeat, I believe that we have players with talent and quality,” concluded Nikopolidis.

King Otto director Christopher André Marks speaking with veteran TV news anchor Ernie Anastos on the red carpet on March 23. Photo by Anastassios Mentis / Mentis Studio

Immediately after the screening, Rehhagel, with the valuable contribution of Topalidis, took the stage and gave a short speech, repeating how much he believed in the potential of his footballers.

King Otto opens nationwide on Friday, March 25, Greek Independence Day.

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