Tibor Kocsis: Barca’s Untold Legends

At the Magnificent7 Festival in Belgrade two weeks ago I had the pleasure to make a short class about football documentaries. I did so as a follow-up to the showing of “Messi” by Alexis de la Iglesia, enjoyed by more than a thousand spectators at the festival. I brought along clips from Ramón Gieling’s “Johan Cruyff – en un momento dando”, “Michael Laudrup” by Jørgen Leth, “Zidane” by Douglas Gordon and Philippe Pareno and Támas Almási’s “Puskás Hungary“.

Some days ago I received a link from director and producer Tibor Kocsis to watch his new film that is a wonderful, emotional tribute to the three Hungarian football players, who played for Barcelona: Kubala (1951-61, 1961-63, 1980 as coach), Sándor Péter Kocsis (1958-1965) and Zoltán Czibor (1958-1961). PHOTO: Kubala in the middle, Kocsis left, Czibor right.

The film is built around interviews with the sons and friends of the three and team mates still alive, with a lot of clips from matches, black and white of course, goals and goals, although before the tv times we have today still enough material to understand how great players they were. And generous personalities, not to forget, as the former controversial President of the club, Núnez, so beautifully phrases it. And Luis Suarez, no not the one who plays in the club now, famous for his bite, but the one I remember when I started watching football, the playmaker, who played for the club 1954-1961. What a player, who talks so well about his close friend Kocsis.

Yes, Tibor Kocsis has made his research and he has found the right persons to tell us about the three, especially Kubala, who left Hungary after ww2, whereas Kocsis and Czibor – as Puskas who went to Real Madrid – came to the West after Soviet invasion in 1956. There is nothing like old football players, who remember, and do so with warm emotions. Three personal stories, very different, tragic when it comes to the best header ever, Kocsis, who died so young. There are in the film amazing clips with him showing how he trained to score with the head. Ronaldo must have seen those clips!

Again (as in the film about Puskas) we are told about the golden team that Hungary had, the team that beat England 6-3 on Wembley in 1953 and went on to win everything – and then lost the match against Germany in 1954. In Bern. In other words, Kocsis integrates the political with the football history. An obvious choice.

A scoop, however, and the one who makes the strongest impression, is Hungarian radio reporter of all the big matches, György Szepesi, who was close to the players and is able to characterise the players: Kubala, the blond miracle, Kocsis, the conductor (Xavi of today, my comment) and Czibor, the crazy bird. The one who returned to live in Hungary.

Ahhh, football – and Visca Barca!

Hungary, 2014, 84 mins.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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