The Netflix documentary Pelé has all the makings of a prestige film: a man known as the greatest footballer in the world, the only player to have won 3 World Cups, and celebrity in the historical context of a brutal dictatorship. The twist in the story is that you see an aged man at his most physically vulnerable, who cries at remembering all the pressure he withstood to make his fans happy.
Sikandar opens with the activities of a small Muslim village in a beautiful mountainous setting. As school lets out, children stream downhill to the market plaza. A child spies a loose soccer ball, kicks it, and it explodes, blowing apart everything and everyone in the plaza. Welcome to routine life in Kashmir.
Many have compared Cold Sweat with the 2006 feature Offside, which is perhaps the most famous soccer movie out of Iran. But to do so is a crime, even though both dramas are about women trying to exercise simple human rights that are denied to them in Iran.
Soviet Football – The Untold Story came out just before the 2018 World Cup was held in Russia. This great little documentary needs to be required viewing for every soccer pundit, professional or amateur. French Writer-Director Nicolas Jallot provides everything you need to know about Soviet football (советского футбола) history in under an hour.
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.
What foments political change? What makes a people realize they deserve a say in how their lives are run? This documentary convinces us the answer is combining politics with football and rock ’n roll.
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).
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.
The football stories of underdeveloped countries often reflect their nation’s politics. Elections need to be carefully planned around major sports events.
Even in developed nations, politicians use sports to bolster approval, because everyone loves a winner.
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.
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.
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.
Inshallah, Football touched me, but I wasn’t sure why I felt that way. The answer was so complex, it took me 3 days to research and understand Director Ashvin Kumar’s persuasive documentary about the decades of conflict in Indian administered Kashmir, aka Jammu and Kashmir.
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.
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.