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Zátopek (Czech Republic)

Zátopek is a film based on Alice Nelli’s screenplay, which tells the story of Emil Zátopek, the Czechoslovakian long-distance runner nicknamed the “Czech Locomotive,” winner of three gold medals at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki. It is directed by David Ondříček and stars Václav Neužil.
The film begins after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia of 1968, when champion Australian runner Ron Clarke travels to Prague, hoping that his old friend and role model Emil Zátopek will help him overcome the biggest crisis of his career. Through flashbacks, the film reflects on the life and career of Emil Zátopek, the most famous Czech athlete of all time.
Eighteen world records holder Emil Zátopek is most famous for the Olympic Games in Helsinki, where he won the run for 5 km, 10 km and marathon. Athletics experts doubt that anyone will ever be able to repeat his success.
Zátopek was the seventh child in a modest family. At the age of 16, he began working in a shoe factory. He recalls that “one day, the factory sports coach, who was very strict, pointed at four boys, including me, and ordered us to run in a race. I protested that I was weak and not fit to run, but the coach sent me for a physical examination, and the doctor said that I was perfectly well. So, I had to run, and when I got started, I wanted to win.”
Zátopek began to take a serious interest in running. He joined the local athletic club, where he developed his own training program, modeled on what he had read about the great Finnish Olympian Paavo Nurmi.

Zátopek is also the story of a fateful encounter between two people leading to a life-long love that nothing could destroy. Emil’s wife Dana Zátopková was born the same day and year as her husband. She won a gold medal in the javelin throw at the 1952 Olympics, only a few moments after Emil’s victory in the 5,000 meters.
Director David Ondříček says that the most challenging part of making this film was accurately portraying Emil’s relationship with Dana. “Essentially, it was a relationship between two athletes who loved and supported each other for the whole of their lives.”
Zátopek is the seventh film by Ondříček. His 2012 film In the Shadow won nine Czech Lions. Zátopek has already won the Audience Award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.