Soccer transforms homelessness in ‘Zebras’ (2016)

Zebras (2016)

While the title Zebras may confuse you, this documentary is about 9 Argentine boys who represent their country in the Apr-2014 Street Child World Cup in Rio de Janeiro. The boys live together in La Casita, a home that takes children off the streets of Buenos Aires. By participating in the tournament, the boys experience travel and learn aspects of teamwork and personal responsibility. 

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‘Soccer in the City’ (2019) highlights soccer for good

Soccer in the City (2019)

The message of Soccer in the City is important: that at $1,500 to $5,500 per year, the pay-to-play model excludes low-income children. American soccer doesn’t reach inner city kids, who could be untapped potential to help win World Cups. In his feature-length debut, Director Michael Holstein shows urban efforts bearing fruit in DC, the Bronx, and Atlanta.

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The story you never heard about ‘The Team That Never Played’ (2010)

The Team That Never Played (2010)

If you are looking for a great idea for a soccer movie, you should buy the rights to this 10 year old documentary The Team That Never Played. Gather up the players interviewed by Writer-Director Greg Appel and fill out their stories while they can still be recalled. This is history that deserves to be retold on a bigger stage and preserved by more than word of mouth.

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Shakhtar Donetsk is ‘The Other Chelsea’ (2010)

The Other Chelsea: A Story from Donetsk (2010)

Although The Other Chelsea is 10 years old, it is a valuable film to watch in the context of today’s impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump. First-time Writer-Director Jakob Preuss lays out the struggling lives of coal miners in Donetsk and compares them to Kolya, a young rising local politician and businessman who drives a Lexus and drinks very old cognac. What ties them together is the success of their football team, FC Shakhtar Donetsk (Шахта́р Донецьк).

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‘Foul Play’ (2017) – it’s easy to fix matches in Indonesia

Director Suridh Hassan put together this documentary about corruption in Southeast Asian football, mostly covering Indonesia. He follows the season of UK manager Simon McMenemy, who coaches Indonesian side Mitrar Kukar FC. He also conducts interviews with a youth coach, a physio, and a journalist who explain how easy and pervasive match fixing is in the area. The bottom line is: Don’t bet on games in Indonesia and Singapore.

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Only watch ‘Maradona’ (2019) for the football

Diego Maradona (2019)

Before there was Messi, there was Maradona. Asif Kapadia’s Diego Maradona is an extraordinary football film in its collection of Maradona’s greatest hits: his passes and shots as well as the violence perpetrated upon him by opponents. In extensive footage, time and time again Maradona throws off tackles like a dog shaking off raindrops. There is not a single moment where he looks ordinary on the field. Even his juggling during practice is something I had never seen before.

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‘Infinite Football’ (2018) is long and nothing happens

Infinite Football (original title Fotbal Infinit) is still running the festival circuit and has been favorably described by some very big reviewers, who spout flowery and philosophical essays with sentences too complex to understand. When so little happens in the film, you end up filling the unused space in your mind with meditations on what Director Corneliu Porumboiu is really trying to say. 

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‘Kaiser’ (2018) perpetuates a lad’s fantasy

Kaiser: The Greatest Footballer Never to Play Football (2018)

Imagine you’re at WC 2014 in Brazil, and you hear this great story about a legendary local lothario. Known as Kaiser, Carlos Henrique Raposo pretended to be a pro footballer and lived the life for over 20 years. He slept with thousands of women, conning the ladies, owners, and coaches, while cleverly avoiding ever getting on the pitch. 

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‘Forever Chape’ (2018): a third view of the Chapecoense disaster

Forever Chape (2018), aka Para Sempre Chape

Para Sempre Chape is the third film I have seen on the Nov-26-2016 tragic flight of the Brazilian team Chapecoense. This version by Uruguayan Director Luis Ara intended to showcase the team’s history and recovery, but not focus on the grim details of the accident. To read the details of the tragedy, please refer to my reviews of the Zimablist Brothers’ Nossa Chape and ESPN’s Setenta y Seta.

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