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Standing ovation. It is the finale of István Várdai’s Bach solo evening, the audience stands and applauds, demanding an encore after the three-hour concert. Who is this young man, accompanied but his 1673 Stradivari, mesmerising the audience packed like a can of sardines?

István Várdai, the world-class Hungarian musician, still only in his thirties, is one of the most sought-after cellists of our time. His story, with a glimpse into his life, reveals what comes with having unique talent. Is it a blessing? Or a burden, making life more difficult? What happens when ambition comes with a huge sense of mission?

If one of our senses is switched off, the other four get refined. During his childhood, Várdai practiced a lot blindfolded, thanks to which his concentration skills and his memory are above average.
Before the pandemic, he gave around 100 concerts a year worldwide, being on the road 200 days a year. With his immersive, deep-drawn play he gives his most during the concerts. At the present, next to his solo carrier he is professor of cello at the Vienna Academy of Music, artistic director of the Liszt Ferenc Chamber Orchestra and the Kaposfest International Chamber Music Festival. He is passionate about talent development, he holds master classes all around the world, he constantly experiments with his innovation company, and recently he also started conducting. He resides in Vienna, he is a husband and a father of two. A true role model. How can one achieve so much at such a young age? How is it possible to be present and focused in so many ways all at once? Is it escapism or commitment in its purest form?

In our movie, we see him working together with other great names of the contemporary music scene: Péter Eötvös, Vikingur Olafsson, Kristof Baráti, Lawrence Foster, we see him lecturing at the Vienna Academy and at a masterclass in Italy, returning to the Kronberg Academy, where he studied and later started his teaching career, while we are also brought closer to his persona in an intimate atmosphere.

An inspirational documentary portrait about an artist who is a real contemporary role model for the younger generations.

This project has been supported by the Hungarian National Film Institute

  • Eszter Száraz
  • Eszter Száraz
  • Gergő Somogyvári
  • Botond Nagy
  • Márton Ecsedy
  • Eszter Száraz
  • Márton Ecsedy
  • Daniel Kapi
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature, Television
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 17 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    December 15, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    60,000 EUR
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    English, German, Hungarian
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Eszter Száraz

After graduating from the dramaturg department of the University of the Film and Drama Arts in Budapest, Eszter Száraz worked in many film and TV related genres, from investigative and socio reports to TV talent shows and portrait programs, through educational and cultural film series, short portraits and promo videos for classical musicians - as an editor-in-chief, director, screenwriter and creative producer.
She wrote screenplays for youth series, dialogues for the most popular Hungarian series, translated Italian films and opera librettos as a dramaturg. Eszter had also worked as the Italian translator- dramaturg on Golden Legends (2023), a documentary film about the legendary three-time Olympic champion Hungarian water polo team.
Eszter’s TV documentary, The Extraordinary Life of Aunt Emmi (2019) was shown at several festivals, and it won the jury's main prize at a prestigious Hungarian film festival.
Her current feature documentary is about the world-class cellist István Várdai, and she has also been working on a life-tracking film for 10 years, which also revolves around a big name in the world of music, an internationally known young conductor.

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