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.

I think Ara accomplishes his goal, as he assembles pieces of history to show how the fairly young team rose from Brazil’s Serie D to Serie A in just 7 years. He also selects narratives that demonstrate not just that the club is like a family, but that it fervently binds Chapecó, a city of 200,000. 

Difference from the other 2 films

As the other two films are American-produced, Ara provides a different perspective on the tragedy: his film has more South American qualities. He shows how the disaster brings support from other footballing entities. In Medellin, Atletico Nacional fans are invited to the stadium at the time of the scheduled game to show their respect. The stadium is filled, and the club announces they will request that Associação Chapecoense de Futebol be declared 2016 champions of the Copa Sudamericana. Brazilian teams offer funding to help pay for new players. In Aug-2017, FC Barcelona invites Chapecoense to Camp Nou for a fund-raising friendly.

Like the other films, Ara follows the recovery of the survivors, and the 3 surviving players (Alan Ruschel, Neto, and Jakson Follmann) get a lot of screen time, as does the only journalist to survive, Rafael Henzel.

But Ara also includes the survivors who had remained at home: Nei Roque Monroe, the VP of futebol who didn’t attend because his daughter had a ballet show. Nivaldo Martins, the 40 year old GK who wasn’t chosen to travel for that game. Sirli Freitas, who lost her husband, Cleberson Silva, the Chapacoense press officer who died along with 20 journalists and media people. 

There are other survivors too: the fans and family members who fill the stadium in pouring rain. Yaneth Molina, the Colombian air traffic controller who is the last to communicate with the pilot. The Colombian rescue worker, who talks about the “golden hour” when the chance of saving lives is greatest. But it takes them 5 hours to reach the few people still alive on the remote and hilly crash site, in pouring rain, at 4:00 AM. 

The individual stories are touching. Neto was in a coma for 10 days, had no memory of the crash, and when he awoke, he asked who had won the game. Another sad fact, subsequent to the film: Rafael Henzel recently died of a heart attack after playing soccer on Mar-26-2019. He was 45.  

As far as communicating the passion of soccer, there is an ample amount of match and locker room footage.

Controversy

It’s less than 3 years since the tragedy, and the club continues to rebuild. But the families of the dead continue to be victims. The Bolivian airline LaMia went down along with the pilot, and apparently was uninsured. Victims’ families continue to struggle to survive and collect compensation. They formed AFAV-C, the Association of Families and Friends of the Victims of the Chapecoense Flight (Associação dos Familiares e Amigos das Vítimas do Vôo da Chapecoense). 

Unfortunately for Ara, the AFAV-C ended up getting a court injunction against his film, and instead of coming out within a year of the tragedy, he trailed the other two films by almost a year. Looking at the 3 films, it is too bad that he was probably too close in geographic proximity to Chapecó and perhaps easier to pursue and inspect than the other two filmmakers. But of course, I can’t speak for the victims and I don’t know if alterations were made to enable the film’s release. But I think Para Sempre Chape adds another dimension to the tragedy, certainly one more thoughtful and not exploitive in my eyes.

In Portuguese with English sub-titles

7 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 7