Nero stars as Mario the Magician in Hungary
With its sights set on the 39th Hungarian Film Week (January 29-February 5, 2008) – the annual celebration of the best of Hungarian cinema – post-production on Tamás Almási’s Mario the Magician (Mario, a varázsló) is in full swing, attracting strong interest from Budapest.
Almási had only directed only one feature in 1980 (the acclaimed Ballagás) before becoming the most renowned Hungarian documentary filmmaker, with over 20 films to his name and a series of international awards, in particular the 1999 Pulitzer Prize.
An adaptation of a short story by Margit Halász, Mario the Magician (the title is a wink to but no link with Thomas Mann’s work of the same name) brings together a cast of Hungarian and Italian actors, featuring Franco Nero (legendary actor of spaghetti westerns and star of Django), Zoltán Mucsi (Best Hungarian Actor 2003), Ági Szirtes (The Man from London), Tibor Gáspár (Best Actor at Hungarian Film Week 2004), Julia Nyakó (Fresh Air), József Gyabronka, Anna Fehér, Lili Monori and Zsolt Trill.
The story is set in a peaceful Hungarian village left untouched by the changes brought about by the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1990. One day, a manufacturer of Italian shoes (Nero) sets off in a luxury car to set up a factory. Production begins very quickly and the women of the village embrace this work opportunity – one of them even falls in love with the owner. However, the disruption of local life will end in tragedy.
Produced by Gabor Grami for Cinemafilm, Mario the Magician has a €1.4m budget. The 35-day shoot took place from mid-June to the end of July, principally in Abaújvár, not far from the Slovak border.
Nero previously headed the bill in Hungarian production The Conquest (1996) by Gábor Koltay.