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‘Setenta y Sete’ (2017): a fine piece of reporting

Setenta y Sete is an ESPN TV documentary on the Nov-2016 plane crash that killed 71 of 77 passengers and staff traveling with the Brazilian Chapecoense team to Medellin, Colombia. The E:60 segment was originally broadcast in Jun-2017, but it was slightly updated and re-broadcast during WC 2018. I assume the update was meant to coincide with the Fox Sports release of Nossa Chape, directed by the Zimbalist brothers.

I originally watched this segment a year ago, which was about 6 months after the crash in Nov-2016. I didn’t review the ESPN film back then, I suppose because it was in the E:60 news show format, and I didn’t consider it a film. But because I just reviewed Nossa Chape yesterday, and since ESPN was kind enough to re-air their film, I watched it again to refresh my memory and write this review.

The ESPN film, with reporter Sam Borden, focuses on two very photogenic players, Alan Ruschel and Filipe Machado, who had just signed with the club in Jun-2016. The two men were active on social media and even posted before the doomed flight took off. ESPN’s film is more emotion-packed than the Fox version of Chapacoense, as Sam Borden closely interviews the tragedy’s survivors, including Alan’s fiancé and Filipe’s widow. The feelings of sorrow and loss by the women are palpable.

The documentary opens with the plane crash site, and during the first 20 minutes, it covers the 2 players’ lives and the success of the club as it progressed through the Copa Sudamericana tournament. Much of the second half of the film is about the charter airline, LaMia, and how it routinely circumvented standard safety procedures. The pilot and co-owner of the airline chose to skip refueling in order to save $5,000. That is why the plane ran out of fuel, lost its electricity, and the pilot did not know where or how high the plane was before it crashed into the hillside.

In this updated version, the final minutes of the documentary cover the Aug-2017 friendly at FC Barcelona and Alan’s return to regular season play 9 months after the accident. Sam Borden wrote a Jun-2017 ESPN article that was also updated with a followup around a year post-accident. The article is not the same as the film, and I encourage you to both read and watch the two pieces. Note that with this update, they also corrected the title from “Setenta Sete” to “Setenta y Sete”.

Watch Nossa Chape as well. The two views, while they cover much of the same material, are different in what they emphasize, and it is interesting to compare. I much prefer this ESPN version.

Update on May-5-2019: I reviewed a third film about the disaster, Forever Chape (Para Sempre Chape). It has a more South American approach and is worth watching even if you see the other 2 films.

For other films about the aftermath of airplane tragedies with soccer teams, check out United and Eighteam.

8 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 8


  • Released: 2017-06 (ESPN)
  • Setenta y Sete in Portuguese translates as “77
  • In English and Brazilian Portuguese with English sub-titles
  • Not in IMDB
  • Reporter: Sam Borden
  • Stars: Alan Ruschel Instagram
  • Watch the Trailer in English on Twitter – since the film is only on demand via an ESPN+ subscription, I could not find a link to an English language trailer