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Documentary Short

Paloma Freestyle: ‘All I Need is a Ball’ (2020)

All I Need is a Ball (2020)

Paloma Pujol is on a mission in Madrid. She is a world class, professional female freestyler. But amongst 100 freestylers in Spain, she is the only female. Paloma sets out to change that.

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Documentary Short

Teen Voice – ‘Yellow Cards for Equal Pay’ (2020)

Yellow Cards for Equal Pay 2020) referee photo
Burlington High School girls soccer players react to receiving yellow cards during Friday night’s game against South Burlington at Buck Hard Field.

It is unbelievable to me that this story and its background were captured by a young soccer player. Being a long-time filmmaker since age 13, Maia Vota created this short film as a high school senior. Soccer movie fans should watch this 11-minute film for that fact alone, but you should really watch it because it is a great little story.

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Documentary Short

‘Muerte o Gloria: The Rise of the American Soccer Fan’ (2015)

Muerte o Gloria: The Rise of the American Soccer Fan (2015)

As a soccer fan who rarely watches any other sport these days, I tend to forget that basketball, baseball and pointy football don’t have fans like soccer football does. Following the European and Latin American traditions, soccer is the only pro sport in the USA where, pre-pandemic, supporters groups show up with songs, drums, banners, flags, TIFOs and a s**tload of enthusiasm.

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Documentary Short

‘Alive & Kicking: The Soccer Grannies of South Africa’ (2016)

Alive & Kicking: The Soccer Grannies of South Africa (2016)

In this charming documentary, community organizer and radio show presenter Beka Ntsanwisi explains how and why she started Vakhegula Vakhegula, a soccer club for grannies in the region of Limpopo, South Africa. Suffering from chronic diseases or traumas, these Vakhegula (grannies, also called gogos) found football made them healthier and lifted their focus away from pain.

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Documentary Short

ESPN falls flat with ‘Mysteries of the Jules Rimet Trophy’ (2014)

ESPN 30 for 30 logo

It’s hard to believe that Brett Ratner, director of the Rush Hour franchise, put together the worst ESPN 30 for 30 segment that I have seen. Mysteries of the Jules Rimet Trophy covers all the facts, but the production is flat, and the importance of the artifact is blown way out of proportion. It’s almost facetious. It’s not the Holy Grail, it’s a small piece of metal of a woman holding up a cup. It’s not even gold.

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Documentary Short

Review: ‘Barbosa, the Man Who Made Brazil Cry’ (2014)

ESPN 30 for 30 (2014)

Barbosa, the Man Who Made Brazil Cry revisits the trauma bestowed upon goalkeeper Barbosa, who is often blamed for Brazil’s loss to Uruguay  in the Final of World Cup 1950 at the Maracana stadium. This match is famously known as the disastrous El Maracanazo.

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Documentary Short

ESPN explores ‘The Myth of Garrincha’ (2014)

ESPN 30 for 30 logo (2014)

The Myth of Garrincha is a 22 minute episode in ESPN’s 30 for 30 Soccer Stories, currently available on ESPN+. Garrincha was Pelé’s peer, and as long as they were on the field together, Brazil never lost a World Cup.

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Comedy Short

‘Nefta Football Club’ (2018) soccer movie nominated for an Oscar

Nefta Football Club (2018)

Nefta Football Club stands out as being the second*** soccer movie to win an Oscar nomination (that I know of). Nominated in the 2020 Best Live Action Short Film category, Writer-Director Yves Piat has created a visually stunning and engaging short that leads to a whimsical but virtual punch line. 

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Comedy Short

Suffer life without football in ‘Beinball’ (2014)

Beinball (2014) aka Bootball

What would life be like if there were no such thing as football or soccer? The amusing but dark short Beinball shows us what happens to a middle-aged office worker whose only joy is the beautiful game.

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Documentary Short

‘Coach’ (2019) is 25 minutes of inspiration

Sport Psychologist Courtney Carroll Levinsohn found out that SFSU coach Tracy Hamm was working on her UEFA A-license. Only 1% of such coaching licenses are held by women. Why not put this story on the screen and thereby normalize it? The result is Coach, 25 minutes of inspiration that tell women and girls, you can do this. 

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Documentary Short

‘Futbolistas 4 Life’ (2018) is a playbook of resilience

Futbolistas 4 Life (2018)

You might summarize Futbolistas 4 Life as an inspirational example of resilience. But you’d be selling it short. You would miss the fact that bringing this engaging short documentary to theaters required the right stuff in every essence of its being.

The story about immigrant and undocumented students in Oakland, who forge a life through soccer, stirs empathy and action. But the journeys and circumstances behind this film should also be appreciated.

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Cultural Documentary Short

Stateless teams compete in ‘Desert Fire’ (2016)

Desert Fire (2016)

Working with the Bertha Foundation, The Guardian newspaper commissioned 12 short documentaries with global impact. Desert Fire covers a team representing Iraqi Kurdistan at the 2016 ConIFA World Cup.

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Comedy Short

‘The Nation Holds Its Breath’ (2016) in Ireland’s first World Cup

The Nation Holds Its Breath (2016)

In 1990, a young Irishman’s anticipation of his child’s birth coincides with the breathless anticipation of his nation as it competes in the World Cup for the first time.

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Drama Short

‘Wonderkid’ (2016) has a wondrous film production

Wonderkid (2016)

For a guy taking his first steps in creating a film, Director Rhys Chapman made all the right moves. He strategically took Wonderkid from awareness campaign, to fund raising, through a 5-day shoot, and then to fruition. All along, his mission was to educate viewers by portraying homophobia and the need to counter it by Being Yourself at the highest levels of British football.

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Documentary Short

‘The Prize’ (2014) teaches how religion can help athletes

The Prize (2014)

Video evangelism is a soccer movie genre I haven’t reviewed until now. I was contacted by filmmaker Shawn Keith, who created The Prize: Under Pressure for sports chaplains. His 26-minute piece is well-done, interspersing World Cup footage with testimonials by international players. The most well-known of these is Kaká, and Americans will all recognize USMNT goalkeeper Brad Guzan. The message of the film is that embracing Jesus helps players deal with the pressure of performing at the highest level.