Lajos Koltai to direct famed racehorse film for Hungariafilm

By Gyorgy Karpati

    Hungariafilm producer Gabor Losonczi revealed plans to make a movie about the racing horse Kincsem, or as the English called her, the Hungarian Wonder. Production is still one year away, but Academy Award nominated cinematographer and director Lajos Koltai is already set to direct, following his commitment to two U.S. films. Noted Hungarian cinematographer Gyula Pados (Evening, Faithless, Basic Instinct 2) is also attached.

    Losonczi's company, Hungariafilm, recently completed Casting directed by Peter Timar. Losonczi told FNE that if all goes well with financing, pre-production will take place in 2009, with shooting planned for the autumn and winter. Post-production should take place in 2010, with a premiere in 2011.

    Koltai's career has taken off following the success of his directorial debut in 2005 with the adaptation of Imre Kertesz's Nobel-prize winner Faithless. He went on to direct the U.S. production Evening, starring Glenn Close, Meryl Streep, Claire Danes, and Toni Collette. Koltai is contracted to two more Hollywood films over the coming year.

    Kincsem was unique wonder: the only horse in the world which won every races she ran, with a personality to match; she refused to race without her pet cat. In the 1870-1880's she won 54 races across Europe, the rare mare among stallions, and inspired 118 statues in England alone.

    "My interest in the story came from my early career; I photographed horses for 30 years and also had exhibitions, although I've never bet on a horse," Losonczi confided to FNE. "Several people planned to make a movie of the story before in Hungary, but nobody has. The movie will not be only about the horse and the world of turf, but the era of the 1870-1880's, the most exciting time of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarch. That's why it's most important is to make the movie with authenticity."

    The screenplay should be ready by the end of the year, when the search for international co-production partners and EU funds begins. Losonczi has discussed the story with Andy Wajna who reportedly had expressed interest in the story. Losonczi thinks the story has wide enough appeal to attract Hollywood name stars and a budget to match.