For five years he was pushing for it. There was another director working on his script, who returned after a while to his hands. "It was seen by almost all the main Spanish producers, and I'm not fooled either, that's what happens with most feature films," recalls David Marqués (Valencia, 1972). He had already directed five films. It had not gone badly, but that story was rejected again and again. Until the same week a producer told him to go ahead, to make the film with them, and Luis Manso, the producer of Javier Fesser, He telephoned to express his wish that this was Fesser's next project. "And then I had to decide: did I educate my son with little money or leave him in the hands of someone who was going to give him a university degree and to build a great future? I did not hesitate," the scriptwriter recalls. And so Champions, de Marques, became Champions, de Fesser, the highest grossing Spanish film of 2018, winner of the Forqué prize for best film of the year, the one chosen by the Academy to represent Spain at the Oscars -he did not pass the cut- and the comedy that arrives to the night of the Goya with 11 nominations.
A Marqués all this way was long, and he spent several problems with a producer in which he prefers not to delve. They bring you bitter memories. Fesser's entry into the project, however, brought him only moments of happiness. He begins to reel the journey: "My films, especially Isolated They have always worked well with the public when they saw it. And I have been able to accompany them abroad, I have enjoyed the privilege of seeing them with all kinds of spectators and observing their reactions. But saying that, they did not achieve blockbusters. And the criticism was radical: they loved or hated them. "Marqués changed the step:" So I decided to open myself to a more universal, commercial story. "He read in EL PAÍS a story about a disabled Valencian basketball team, and left to meet them. "I talked to them. And I was even clearer after learning that I was not interested in the dramatic theme. That was already trite. I wanted to do an absolute comedy. "
Marqués began writing the script for a production company. For a time, its author lost the rights to the script, and Miguel Albaladejo led the project. That attempt ran aground and the libretto returned to Marqués. "It was when I decided to send it to several producers, and one after another they rejected it." Until the spark came: in the same week a company proposed that he do it with them and it appeared Pendelton movies, of Manso and Fesser. "If it had been my first film, I would have gone head over the head, but I know how this industry works: without a television, a good premiere is very complicated, I admire Fesser, they called me, and after talking with him I felt we were going for the same path". The other producer, says the scriptwriter, understood the situation. In those years, the movie has been called, in this order, King of Babia, Champions, again King of Babia and again Champions
How much has Javier Fesser rewritten? "My script, that Champions, they were 90 pages of pure comedy, he only told the adventures of the coach with his team, he did not have the private life he has acquired now. In that booklet they won the semifinals, but they did not play the final because the coach was going back to the ACB League. Javier enlarged it, added layers to all the characters. After his first version, he passed it to me -which could not have been done- so that I could give him my opinion, and with it while the selection of the cast began, we worked with four hands in its rewriting. "Marqués speaks of the director's wonders. with someone at a job like that and it's been great. If today another director came for another screenplay of mine, and I felt that he was going to do better, after the experience of Champions, Of course I accept the offer. "The Goya candidate for the best original screen speaks of" respect ", of visits to the shooting, of calls to go to see the successive productions." And my opinion was heard. Careful, it could perfectly well have happened to me, in the sense that I had bought my idea and was entitled to have gone on its own way. "
Whole parts of that first original script have been left. "What if one's girlfriend is a prostitute or if the conversations about being a hypochondriac were good because they came from reality, I heard them on that basketball team, live, like the Paralympic basketball team that cheated. : the captain of the Valencian squad was one of only two really disabled players of the Spanish team of Sidney 2000, "says Marqués.
In Champions the seal of Fesser is clear on every plane. And that makes his screenwriter proud: "I do not regret my decision at any time, Javier has a lot of power, for example, he does not need to bend to the interests of a television, and he has the capacity to cast more than 600 people, in which we found people so interesting that the team went from eight to 10 players. Champions He has triumphed at the box office because he has done it as he thought it had to be done. "