Nefta Football Club stands out as being the only 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.
The story is about 2 young brothers who find a lost donkey bearing sacks of cocaine in the desert outside their Tunisian village, and what they do with the contraband. It’s a clever little film, but puzzling to me as an Oscar contender. Perhaps its success is due to participation in almost 100 festivals.
However, I found this film a relief compared to last year’s 2019 Oscar-nominated live action shorts, 4 of 5 of which were about violence perpetrated by or against children. Violence against children seems to be the Academy’s preference for demonstrating excellence. Note that Nefta contains a brief scene of violent threat against the older boy.
The soccer consists of snippets of the kids playing on their village’s bare dirt field.
John Higgins has a lengthy and revealing interview with Director Yves Piat. Piat shot the film in just 8 days. Originally they had expected to film in Zagora, Morocco, and so the project was initially titled FC Zagora. The elements with the found white powder and the donkey are based on real incidents.
You can judge for yourself as the creators have made it available for free on Vimeo. Congratulations to them on getting showcased on the biggest cinema platform in the USA. Maybe this short will spur interest in developing more football films?
In French and Arabic with English sub-titles. 17 minutes long.
7 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 7