Shakhtar Donetsk is ‘The Other Chelsea’ (2010)

The Other Chelsea: A Story from Donetsk (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).

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‘Yeşil Kirmizi’ (2016) – The many ways Turks oppress a club

Yeşil Kirmizi or The Red Green (2016)

The title Yeşil Kirmizi refers to green and red, the colors of Amedspor, a Kurdish team that in 2016 played in the third division of Turkish football. To Americans, that sentence sounds harmless, but in Turkey, four of those words could be inflammatory. To strongman Erdogan’s Turkish government, professing Kurdish ethnic identity is tantamount to treason and the support of terrorism. 

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In ‘Forever Pure’ (2016) it hurts to watch the bad guys win

Forever Pure (2016)

As told to Director Maya Zinshtein, what goes on in a stadium is not just a mirror of society, but indicates the direction society is going.

Forever Pure is a uniquely panoptic film of soccer and society. We see that football clubs can be a toy for oligarchs, a tool for politicians, a burning torch for militant supporters groups, a trauma for its players and staff, and a testament that the good guys don’t always win.

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WW1 recruits thought ‘War Game’ (2002) was a sport

War Game (2002)

Michael Foreman is a renowned British author and illustrator of many children’s books. But the book that affected people the most was his 1989 “War Boy”, about what it was like to grow up in a small village at the start of World War I.

He followed that with the book “War Game” in 1993, which is about the boys on a soccer team who eagerly join the British forces in the new war. Foreman turned his book into this eponymous animated short film in 2002.

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‘The Opposition’ (2014) – Chile’s national stadium used for torture

ESPN 30 for 30: The Opposition (2014)

I watched The Opposition last year but didn’t write about it because the film was so disturbing. This ESPN 30 for 30 TV episode documents how General Pinochet’s junta tortured and killed dissidents. They used the Chilean national stadium as a prison while the team prepared to qualify for WC 1974.

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Arab Spring got in Bob Bradley’s way in ‘We Must Go’ (2014)

We Must Go (2014)

Soccer fans looking for a way to be part of WC2014, documentarians Dave LaMattina and Chad Walker followed Bob Bradley on his questionably sane task to coach the Egyptian National Team to Brazil.

Arab Spring got in the way.

The film captures not so much Bradley’s journey, but the journey of Egypt’s young people and one ardent soccer fan base, the Ultras Ahlawy.

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‘El Portero’ (2000) a pretty Spain in the ugly era of Franco

El Portero (2000)

In El Portero, a former Real Madrid goalkeeper known as the King of the Penalty Kick, travels the Spanish countryside, wagering men to score against him. The villagers and the underground openly express their opposition to the repressive military dictatorship via a comedic penalty kick shootout versus the soldiers.

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