Categories
Documentary

Will there be more ‘Men of Hope’ (2019)

Afghanistan has been in a state of civil war since 1992. For almost 30 years, lives have been violently torn apart by the Taliban, ISIS/ISIL, Pakistan, and the USA. So why is this film titled Men of Hope? Because when Afghans can watch their National Team play, it brings hope to locals, migrants, and refugees, that the homeland can return to normalcy.

Categories
Drama

‘Adidas vs Puma’ (2016) – How the feud began

Duell der Brüder is a welcome entry in my list of football films. Titled Adidas vs Puma for Amazon, it covers a small but significant piece of sports history along with the drama of two brothers turned personal and business enemies amid the effects of World War 2.

Categories
Documentary

‘Elite School’ (2014) a view of a German football academy

A Kaderschmiede is an elite training center, school, or academy, and in the case of Karlsruher SC, its purpose is to create a cadre of skilled footballers. Writer-Director Juana Guschl followed the club’s youth players for the 2013-2014 season and submitted this film for graduation from the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg in 2014.

Categories
Comedy Drama

‘The Naked Man on the Sports Field’ (1974)

Der nackte Mann auf dem Sportplatz is not really a soccer movie. This 1974 film from the East German director Konrad Wolf is about a sculptor (Kurt Böwe) in a small town, who gets a commission to create a monument for the local football stadium. Since the artist is fairly well known, the local authorities hope such a public artwork will help increase game attendance.

Categories
Documentary

‘Kroos’ (2019) follows a familiar arc

In general, I don’t like to watch documentaries about current players because they tend to be boring marketing fluff. The arc is usually the same: kid has a nice family, leaves for academy at a young age, overcomes obstacles, recognized as great, wins championships, and starts a foundation. 

Categories
Drama Romance

‘The Keeper’ (2018) – when good play heals divides

The Keeper is based on the young life of ManCity goalkeeper Bert Trautmann, whose worldwide fame is due to having weathered the last 20 minutes of the 1956 FA Cup Final with a broken neck.

But fittingly, that incident is a smaller part of the movie, because the real story is how a Nazi soldier and POW became a First Division GK in English football in just a few years after the end of World War 2.

Categories
Documentary

Derby Days Berlin (2019) will make you a fan

You might expect that as a reviewer of soccer movies, I would be well aware of COPA90, a company that claims to be “The world’s largest independent football media business”, delivering stories on “football like you’ve never seen it before”. I knew the name, but I hadn’t looked at their content until I watched Derby Days Berlin, an episode of their Copa90 Stories youtube channel. 

Categories
Documentary

Shakhtar Donetsk is ‘The Other Chelsea’ (2010)

Although The Other Chelsea is 10 years old, it is a valuable film to watch in the context of today’s impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump. First-time Writer-Director Jakob Preuss lays out the struggling lives of coal miners in Donetsk and compares them to Kolya, a young rising local politician and businessman who drives a Lexus and drinks very old cognac. What ties them together is the success of their football team, FC Shakhtar Donetsk (Шахта́р Донецьк).

Categories
Drama

‘Morris from America’ (2016) is not a soccer movie

Morris from America might come up when you search for “soccer movie”. But even though it takes place in Germany, and is ostensibly about a black American soccer coach, the film is not about football and actually has no football in it except as a visual reference. I’m reviewing the film on my website really, just to let you guys know.

Categories
Documentary

In ‘Die Mannschaft’ (2014) teamwork is key to victory

German fans still recovering from the team’s failure to advance at WC 2018 should return to watching Die Mannschaft. It is a nicely crafted love letter to Joachim Löw and the 2014 German National Team. It is a tribute to German football, showing everything the German Federation (DFB) did to optimize the team to win WC 2014. 

Categories
Documentary

Brave souls unite behind football in ‘Istanbul United’ (2014)

No words can adequately describe the courage and madness in fighting a government’s violence against its people. To understand this, you must watch it unfold. To see how football fans influenced the 2013 Gezi protest in Turkey, watch a few videos as the protests began. And then watch Istanbul United. And then watch Ayaktakimi.

Categories
Documentary

So many ways to cheat in ‘Dirty Games’ (2016)

As sports fans, we should all thank Director Benjamin Best for his investigative journalism. We like to think that the games on which we spend so much time, money, and emotion, are equally true to us, the fans and supporters.

Categories
Cultural Documentary

A refugee soccer camp in ‘Beirut Parc’ (2016)

Refugees comprise 20% of the population of Lebanon. If the USA had a similar percentage, the entire populations of New York and California would be refugees. To counter the effects of such chaos on Lebanon, international organizations like the United Nations try to help the children.

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

Turkish fans under oppression in ‘Ayaktakimi’ (2015)

In Turkey, Supporters Groups are the real fans, and everyone else is just a spectator. Filmmakers Naz Gündogdu and Friedemann Pitschak have documented a life that Americans have not yet experienced: being a fan in the face of political oppression.