Categories
Documentary Short

‘The Opposition’ (2014) – Chile’s national stadium used for torture

ESPN 30 for 30: The Opposition (2014)

I watched The Opposition last year but didn’t write about it because the film was so disturbing. This ESPN 30 for 30 TV episode documents how General Pinochet’s junta tortured and killed dissidents. They used the Chilean national stadium as a prison while the team prepared to qualify for WC 1974.

Categories
Documentary

Ossie Ardiles between England and ‘White, Blue and White’ (2014)

30 for 30: White Blue White (2014)

White, Blue and White is an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary that examines the effect of the Falklands War on Argentines Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricardo Villa. After winning WC 1978* in Buenos Aires, they are recruited by newly promoted Tottenham to become the first Argentines to play in the England First Division.

They are wildly successful until Argentina’s ruling junta invades the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) in 1982. Ossie’s fighter pilot cousin is killed in the conflict between Argentina and the United Kingdom.

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Documentary

‘Life of Ryan’ (2014) might not be so dull if it were more truthful

Life of Ryan (2014)

It’s hard to believe that Life of Ryan: Caretaker Manager is from Fulwell 73, the same company that produced Class of ’92 and other good football films.

Categories
Cultural Documentary

Tibet is ‘The Forbidden Team’ (2003) in the eyes of FIFA

The Forbidden Team (2003)

A Dane who spent time in a Tibetan monastery, Michael Nybrandt realizes his dream to organize an international match between Tibet and Greenland. Neither team is recognized by FIFA.

China tries to block the game because Tibet is part of China. Greenland’s own application to join FIFA could be jeopardized by playing.

Categories
Cultural Documentary

‘American Pharaoh’ (2014) too often feels like a home movie

American Pharaoh (2014)

American Pharaoh is Hossam Aboul-Magd’s first shot at directing and is a 60 minute documentary for PBS. Hossam is a one-man film crew, following Bradley and his wife Lindsay during their 2 year residency in Cairo. He became their friend, and perhaps that is why the film is so weak.

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Cultural Documentary

‘Next Goal Wins’ (2014) – the original documentary

Next Goal Wins (2014)

With Next Goal Wins, the film and its back story are equally interesting. American Samoa is the last place team in FIFA world rankings but is trying to qualify for WC 2014.

The American Samoan team has not won a game since 1983 and has been outscored 229-2. In WC 2002 qualifying, they gave up a record 31 goals to Australia. In one game.

Categories
Documentary Short

Tough life of an ambitious referee in ‘Rättskiparen’ (2010)

The Referee (Rättskiparen) (2010)

Rättskiparen is a short Swedish documentary about Martin Hansson, a former firefighter, divorced with 2 sons, who puts football before everything else in hopes of refereeing at WC 2010.

Categories
Cultural Documentary

Arab Spring got in Bob Bradley’s way in ‘We Must Go’ (2014)

We Must Go (2014)

Soccer fans looking for a way to be part of WC2014, documentarians Dave LaMattina and Chad Walker followed Bob Bradley on his questionably sane task to coach the Egyptian National Team to Brazil.

Arab Spring got in the way.

The film captures not so much Bradley’s journey, but the journey of Egypt’s young people and one ardent soccer fan base, the Ultras Ahlawy.

Categories
Cultural Documentary

The FA’s Christian roots in ‘Thank God for Football!’ (2013)

Thank God for Football! (2013)

A strong Christian and avid researcher, Peter Lupson published his book Thank God for Football! in 2006. A few years later, he ran into an executive of the Christian Television Association. That heaven-sent meeting resulted in a documentary of the 12 past and present EPL teams that were founded by churches.

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Documentary

The blokes and fans of ‘The Class of ’92’ (2013)

The Class of '92 (2013)

The Class of ’92 started when Gary Neville got his old teammates to agree to make a film about their “Class of ’92”, Alex Ferguson’s young guns who went from youth academy to winning the treble in 1999 (FA Cup, EPL, and Champions League).

Directors and brothers Gabe and Benjamin Turner, owners of production company Fulwell 73, assembled the best integration of soccer player interviews and past game footage that I have seen. They get the players to open up individually and put them together for one day of camaraderie.

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Documentary

The horror and coverup of ‘Hillsborough’ (2014)

30 for 30: Hillsborough (2014)

It’s fitting to review the ESPN film Hillsborough today, the 26th anniversary of the April 15, 1989 soccer stadium disaster where 96 Liverpool fans died from suffocation and crush injuries.

Director Dan Gordon is especially emotionally invested in this film because Hillsborough was his team’s home stadium, and he could easily have been one of the young people inside.

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Documentary

‘Kicking It’ (2008) an entertaining film that matters

Kicking It (2008)

Kicking It is a Ted Leonsis production that tries to influence you to do good while whisking you away in a good story. It is “filmanthropy”, according to Leonsis, a  billionaire sports team owner, philanthropist, former AOL executive, and media maven.

Leonsis spotted Director Susan Koch $1 million so that she could follow players in 7 teams at the 2006 Homeless World Cup in South Africa.

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Documentary

Is ‘The Beautiful Game’ (2012) the best way out of Africa?

The Beautiful Game (2012)

Producer Julian Cautherly and Director Victor Buhler began working on their Africa10 film project in advance of WC 2010. Their lofty goal was to show how a passion for soccer encourages development and change in Africa.

But for those in poverty, soccer is more like a winning lottery ticket out of the country to a better life that they have no other means to achieve.

Categories
Cultural Documentary

The culture of Argentine ‘Fútbol Violencia, S.A.’ (2009)

Futbol Violencia image from Amazon

Sometimes I don’t learn much from watching a soccer movie, but it confuses me enough that I research the subject to understand what the movie was really about. Fútbol Violencia S.A. (Football Violence, Inc.) is such a movie.

Categories
Documentary

‘Downtown Dawgs’ (2010) – a homeless team honestly portrayed

The logo for the defunct Calgary Street Soccer, organizers of the Downtown Dawgs (2010)

Brothers Kevin and Mike Scullion originally intended to create a fictional movie about homeless men joining a soccer team. Instead, they ended up documenting the Downtown Dawgs’ journey from a Calgary drop-in shelter to the 2010 Homeless World Cup in South Africa.