Hungary, Greece


Year after year, runners from around the world participate in one of the most prestigious and challenging of races, the Spartathlon – 246km from Athens to Sparta in under 36 hours. The film's subjects and its director, Balazs Simonyi, each have their own personal reasons for participating in the extreme run. None of them knows if they will ever be able to finish, but they do know that it is crucial for them to try – and possibly accomplish the seemingly impossible. These are everyday athletes who test their limits, heal their souls and release their demons.
ULTRA is a unique journey into the pasts, hearts and minds of runners embraced by the running director. A real first-hand experience, a unique insight from an unknown world.

Director's Statement

This is a very personal movie, maybe as personal as it can be. By being the director and also one of the protagonists, I put an enormous effort to make this film, because the topic and its side-topics are essential for me. I hope to share many feelings with the viewers, and give back what running gave me - not only training, but friendship, humbleness, persistence.

The originality of this project is my personal access to the topic, my involvement in the race and the opportunity to creatively take advantage of my professional skills both as a filmmaker and as a runner.
Ultra races are not a sport achievement but an exercise to release my pain, problems and train my faith on the long road. That is how I met with my protagonists with different motivations behind their running. Ultra means beyond. All you think you are you may get beyond during this race.

Running for these people is a way of living, a way of facing problems, a way of facing life.

The film is about people who stand for what they love, their ability of never giving up. The characters may look average at first sight, through my vision their extraordinariness becomes visible. They are heroes who can inspire others.

Director's Biography

Balazs Simonyi (1980, Budapest) graduated in Literature & Film, and is currently completing his PhD in Art Theory. He works as a free-lance film director and producer since 2002. His films have been screened at major festivals, from Cannes and Karlovy Vary to Cracow, from Aspen and St. Louis to Seattle and Vancouver.

His films has been broadcasted all over in Europe, and the short films in the USA and Japan. He is also an organizer and selector of the Budapest Short Film Festival (BuSho).

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Balazs Simonyi

Written by: Balazs Simonyi

Produced by: Hanka Kastelicova, Anna Zavorszky, Laszlo Jozsa, Balazs Simonyi, Rea Apostolides, Yuri Averof

Cinematography: Csaba Hernath

Editing: Thomas Ernst (Airbrushart by Thomas Ernst)

Original Score: Balazs Alpar

Sound Design: Peter Benjamin Lukacs

Nominations and Awards

  • Documentary Selection 2017