Categories
Documentary

‘Matthews’ (2017) admire the man but skip the film

The career of Sir Stanley Matthews is so long — he retired at age 50 — and the footage so slim that it is hard to understand why Gary Lineker calls Stanley “the Messi of his day”. 

It’s a difficult mission for the documentary Matthews – The Original No. 7. How do you make a 78-minute film more compelling than Tifo Football’s 5-minute animation “A Brief History of Stanley Matthews”? 

Categories
Cultural Documentary

Social change through ‘Zanzibar Soccer Dreams’ (2016)

Watching Zanzibar Soccer Dreams via the virtual 2020 Women Sports Film Festival, I suffered a little deja-vu, wondering if I had already seen this film. It turns out that this documentary, by two professors in the UK, came out only a year after New Generation Queens: A Zanzibar Soccer Story was released by a couple of young American women. I saw both films through the WSFF.

Categories
Documentary

‘The Rhino Cup’ (2019) – can football reduce poaching?

When anti-poachers asked a village how to help, the answer was a football league.

As a child, Matt Bracken developed a love for Africa’s wildlife, which lead to his becoming a safari travel specialist. From there, he became an anti-poaching ranger for ProTrack in South Africa. Protrack has 300 rangers in Mozambique who fight rhinoceros poachers.

Categories
Documentary Short

‘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.

Categories
Documentary

‘Streetball’ (2010) best Homeless World Cup movie

Streetball is not just another homeless world cup film, it is the best of its genre. Despite being 10 years old, this documentary is fresh, vibrant, and still relevant in its reflection of the world today. Streetball also stands out as one of the few homeless world cup (HWC) films where the soccer is as engaging as the stories of the people.

Categories
Cultural Drama Suspense

‘Lost in Africa’ (2010) doesn’t flinch

Behind the benign title of Lost in Africa is a thriller that embodies every mother’s worst nightmare: her child vanishes. It’s not really a soccer movie as much as it is a reflection of the hard and dangerous life in Kiera, a Kenyan shanty town. 

Categories
Documentary

The story you never heard about ‘The Team That Never Played’ (2010)

If you are looking for a great idea for a soccer movie, you should buy the rights to this 10 year old documentary The Team That Never Played. Gather up the players interviewed by Writer-Director Greg Appel and fill out their stories while they can still be recalled. This is history that deserves to be retold on a bigger stage and preserved by more than word of mouth.

Categories
Comedy

‘Funke!’ (2018) is an Interesting view of Nigerian life

It’s hard to believe that in Sep-2018, two movies were released with the title Funke. This review is about the Nigerian feature film directed by Filmboyz Yemi Morafa and Friday Nwagwu. The other film is a documentary on Los Angeles restauranteur Evan Funke. 

Categories
Cultural Drama

‘Fintar o Destino’ (1998) is a beautiful time capsule

Fintar o Destino is a strikingly beautiful film, but not at all in a visual sense. Filmed in standard definition, the story immerses you in Cape Verdean village life and the regrets of Mané (Carlos Germano), a frustrated 50 year old former footballer. He didn’t leave the island when he had the chance, and to defy the taunt of a friend, he uses all his savings to try and recoup his dignity.

Categories
Documentary

‘Soka Afrika’ (2011): well-meaning but misinformed

The problem of human trafficking through football, also known as football trafficking, has been covered in the media for almost 10 years. In Soka Afrika, Suridh Hassan puts together a sensitive portrayal of 2 teenage footballers trying to make a career in Europe in 2009. However, I do not recommend this documentary because it puts a good face on bad agents and furthers the myth of sports as a key way out of poverty.

Categories
Cultural Documentary

‘New Generation Queens’ (2015) – when women can’t play football

Megan went to Zanzibar and was looking for a pickup game. She found a women’s team called the New Generation Queens. They were getting chased off fields because Zanzibar is 99% Muslim, and women aren’t supposed to play football. But they prevail, and this pleasant little film, with an ethnographic story and a long title, generated even more questions after I viewed it.

Categories
Documentary

Football is medicine for ‘The Other Kids’ (2016)

First-time Director Pablo de la Chica initially set out to make a documentary about the young Ugandan players who had a chance to visit FC Barcelona in 2007. While investigating, de la Chica found Mubiru Reagan playing soccer in a garbage dump near the Mandela National Stadium.

The landfill is heavy with the toxic smell of burned plastic, but Reagan plays joyously while wearing a Fernando Torres jersey. Reagan is only 5 years old, but his skill, confidence, and positivity make him the leading goalscorer.

Categories
Cultural Documentary

The poverty around WC 2010 is ‘Meanwhile in Mamelodi’ (2011)

During the month the 2010 World Cup is played in South Africa, Director Benjamin Kahlmeyer shows the life that goes on, meanwhile, in the impoverished township of Mamelodi. The township is only 16 miles from Loftus Stadium, but residents’ interaction is mostly limited to buying noisy vuvuzuelas and enjoying Bafana Bafana’s games on small black and white TVs.

Categories
Cultural Documentary

Being ‘Men in The Arena’ (2017) helps exit Somalia

Men in the Arena comes to your screen in the time of the xenophobic Trump Administration. It took over 3 years for Writer-Director J.R. Biersmith to deliver his tale of 2 young Somalian footballers, whose steadfast friendship and soccer skills are crucial in bringing them to the USA.

Categories
Documentary

Trying to qualify for WC 2010 in ‘Laduma! Benin’s Journey’ (2011)

Part travelogue, part cultural anthropology, and part football history, Director Richard Shepherd’s film Laduma! Benin’s Journey captures an insider’s view as a small African nation tries to qualify for WC 2010.