Football gala-centric feature films that score big with real issues-Entertainment News, Firstpost
The greatest show on earth, the fifa world cup, begins this weekend in Qatar and football lovers everywhere will be immersed in the spirit of the beautiful game over the coming weeks. Host country debates aside, true blue fans will be eager for the definitive pinnacle that comes once every four years with the tournament, as 32 nations battle it out to be crowned kings of the world in the most popular sport. there is.
Cinema, with its tendency to bring reality to life through fiction, has often turned to football to draw inspiration from themes. While sports-centric feature films, biopics and documentaries abound, the bizarre filmmaker has also managed to find cultural or political context specifically in the World Cup as a social phenomenon, using sports carnival to prepare scenarios that capture the grassroots fervor of the game, as well as introspection on life in the process. Since football as a sport is not hugely popular in the United States, very few such films have come from Hollywood.
A host of World Cup feature films, whose purpose is quite different from various documentaries about the tournament, draw up fictional plotlines of the quadrennial tournament to shed light on topics as diverse as gender discrimination and empowerment, war, the political metamorphosis of a nation or, quite simply, a child’s innocent passion for gambling. Interestingly, most filmmakers who tackle such themes prefer comedy as their genre of storytelling.
We watch some of the best films from around the world that capture the spirit of humanity with stories created around the World Cup. These are stories specific to the people and societies they represent, but universal for connecting with football and movie fans everywhere. The films are listed in chronological order.
The Miracle of Bern (2003)
The German film is a moving family drama directed by Sonke Wortmann and is set against the backdrop of the 1954 World Cup, which West Germany won by beating favorites Hungary in the final played in Bern. Titled Das Wunder von Bern in its original version, the film tells the story of a former German soldier who returns home after more than a decade, following World War II. He struggles to return to a normal family life and discovers that his young son would rather idolize football star Helmut Rahn than value him. The story traces how common life in Germany was affected in different ways by the war and how the triumph of football helped to offset much of the trauma. Wortman maintains the pace of a family drama and blends it perfectly with the thrill of a classic sports movie. The film won the Audience Award at the Locarno International Film Festival in 2003.
The Game of Their Lives (2005)
The Gerard Butler-starrer is a rare football-themed Hollywood film – or football, as the United States insists on calling the game. Unsurprisingly, the film celebrates the strange triumph of the United States against England. In the 1950 World Cup held in Brazil, the United States beat England 1-0, and the film largely attempts to create drama around how the underdogs did it.
Mostly panned by critics, the film flopped at the box office despite starring Gerard Butler as American footballer Frank Borghi. David Anspaugh’s directorial based on Geoffrey Douglas’ book of the same name was a rare forgettable effort among films based on the FIFA World Cup.
Jafar Panahi’s 2006 comedy-drama, titled Afsaid in the original Persian language, brilliantly uses Iran’s passion for football to tell a story of gender discrimination. Set against the backdrop of Iran’s historic World Cup qualifier win over Bahrain at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran, the story tells of six young girls who are mad fans of the game but have no the right to enter the stadium because of their gender. At the time, Iranian law prevented women from entering soccer stadiums, so the six girls attempted to enter the stadium disguised as men. They get caught and are placed in a makeshift paddock outside the stadium under the watch of a group of rookie police officers, but continue to cheer on their team.
The absurdity of the situation triggers an innocent and sarcastic humor at the same time and the film, shot as a mockumentary and taking place in real time, leaves a strong socio-cultural message under its air of well-being. Offside was banned in Iran, but won the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival and was an official selection at the Toronto and New York Film Festivals.
THE YEAR THAT MY PARENTS WENT ON VACATION (2006)
It’s 1970, and a couple of political activists fleeing Brazil’s ruthless military regime send their little son Mauro to live with his grandfather and run away, saying they’re going on vacation. Meanwhile, Mauro discovers his grandfather is dead and ends up staying with the old man’s neighbors in a mostly Jewish and Italian neighborhood, waiting for his parents to return. The 1970 World Cup is launched. Mauro, like all Brazilians, is excited because Brazil’s victory would mark a hat-trick of victories on football’s highest platform for the country and, above all, for the team’s greatest icon, Pelé.
Cao Hamburger’s Portuguese-language film, titled O Ano em Que Meus Pais Sairam de Ferias in its original version, unfolds in layers. It’s a simple comedy drama about a youngster who dreams of seeing his heroes win. At the same time, the film is interesting in the way it shows Brazil as a nation where the power of football often unites a society divided by politics, race and class. The film was Brazil’s official entry to the 2007 Oscars and nominated for a Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival.
The World Cup becomes an unusual symbol of brotherhood for three slum boys in Argentinian filmmaker Ezio Massa’s Spanish-language crime drama, originally titled Villa. The three young friends from Buenos Aires, driven away while trying to watch the opening ceremony of the World Cup from the window of a pizzeria, make a pact: no matter what, they will watch the next one Argentina-Nigeria match on TV. As the trio strives to ensure the success of their pact, different fates await them.
Massa taps into the football hysteria to unfold his narrative on different levels. The gritty film lets you guess what fate awaits the boys and at the same time gives a socio-cultural context to their lives.
SEE YOU IN MONTEVIDEO (2014)
Dragan Bjelogrlic’s Serbian film is originally titled Montevideo, Vidimo Se!, and is set against the backdrop of the first 1930 FIFA World Cup hosted by Uruguay. The film is a delight for lovers of football history, telling the true story of the preparations of the disadvantaged Yugoslav national teams and the arduous journey by sea to arrive in Montevideo for the tournament. Upon landing, they face the challenge of qualifying for the next round in a group where they face mighty Brazil, in addition to Bolivia. However, upsetting all predictions, the Yugoslavs managed to finish third in the tournament.
The feel-good film works on the basic sports film formula of celebrating the underdog and provides adequate insight into the World Cup in its formative phase. It was Serbia’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2015 Oscars.
JULES AND DOLORES (2016)
Caito Ortiz serves up a slice of history with a comedic twist in this outrageously themed Brazilian film, titled O Roubo da Taca in its original Portuguese version. The film sets up an imaginary plot based on the actual theft of the former World Cup, known as the Jules Rimet Trophy. While the culprits of this historic heist have never been apprehended in real life, Ortiz imagines a comedy heist where the hero of the film, a gambler, decides to steal a replica of the Jules Rimet trophy to pay off his debts and also win enough money to plan a future with his gorgeous girlfriend Dolores (played by Brazilian star Tais Araujo). Things get complicated because the hero ends up accidentally stealing the real Jules Rimet trophy.
The focus is on creating humor that appeals to a mainstream audience, and there are plenty of lighthearted moments throughout for drama and suspense.
MARADONA’S LEGS (2019)
Footballing rivalries extend beyond national colours, and the Arabian gem of Firas Khoury captures such passion for the game in the span of around 20 minutes. Maradona’s Legs is one of the most accomplished sports-themed shorts you’ll see. The setting is the 1990 World Cup. Two young Palestinian brothers who are ardent Brazilian fans and hate the idea of Argentina winning, are desperate for ‘Maradona’s legs’ – a sticker card they need to complete a world cup players album. Completing and submitting the album before everyone else would earn them an Atari game console. In a neighborhood where all the other kids are looking for the prize, acquiring the missing sticker piece is easier said than done. The two little kids, however, will go all the way to win an Atari.
Khoury’s narrative mixes witty (“Maradona’s legs are worth the whole Brazil team”) and politics (separatist groups interrupting live radio commentary to deliver a message) with the feel-good vibe. being from the film, which is carefully edited and cinematic to evoke 90s nostalgia.
Vinayak Chakravorty is a Delhi-NCR based film critic, columnist and journalist.