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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m sorry, but The Trophy Thief did not open my heart. Instead, I feel manipulated, as if the creators are simply playing to sympathies by casting a short-statured soccer player as Ben, the boy who steals an unjustly-awarded MVP trophy.