Archive for the 'Films' Category

Nov 02 2013

Profile Image of Ajay Thomas

Rendezvous with the makers of Pelada

Filed under Films

pelada The Ultimate Guide to Soccer Movies

Just yesterday we had an interesting rendezvous with the makers of Pelada. You can watch the film here.

While watching the documentary itself was great, meeting Luke Boughen, Gwendolyn Oxenham and Ryan White, in person was even more exciting. Of course, we missed Rebekah Fergusson, the fourth member of the team. Indeed one cannot help admiring how these spunky guys went globe-trotting across 25 countries without even knowing the languages or who or what they were going to bump into at each of these places. In fact, Ryan admitted that today he wouldn’t advise anybody to undertake such projects. But I personally, think that that element of, what may be called “craziness”, is what makes this film all the more different from most other soccer documentaries. There is a certain liveliness and remarkable spontaneity that runs throughout the film and it is evident in both the characters and players in each country and even the filmmakers themselves. One can sense a certain naiveness and that tension is what makes it all the more appealing. The website worldsoccertalk.com lists this film as one of the top 20 greatest soccer films of all time. It even won an award for outstanding achievement in Documentary Filmmaking at the Newport Beach Film Festival in 2010. Here is the interview they gave at the festival.

Both Gwendolyn and Ryan recounted a lot of their experiences in each country. I particularly found the experience they had in Iran quite scary in certain ways, where they almost got into legal trouble with the government for filming. It was also the place where Luke and Gwendolyn got engaged.Throughout the shooting in Iran, the filmmakers were under constant surveillance and Gwendolyn had to keep her head covered in the headscarf. Before leaving the country they also had to show all their footage to the authorities and they were not even sure whether they would be allowed to exit the country. We were even told how they ran out of money each time and had to get back and raise funds. The original budget that they had aimed for was $600,000. But obviously, nobody was going to give them that in one go!!  Slowly and perseveringly, they got the funds over a period of 3 years and the result was Pelada. What comes out to you as a listener is their passion to show the world that here was a great story they had about ‘pick-up’ soccer and no matter what came in their way they wouldn’t stop till they had actually shown it. I would definitely recommend this documentary to all those who are interested in the game and even for those who just want to have some entertainment. Gwendolyn has even published a book titled Finding the Game:Three Years,Twenty-Five Countries and the Search for Pickup Soccer which tells you about their adventures “on the road and on the field,” throughout the making of this film.

http://www.pelada-movie.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/book-cover.jpg

One response so far

Oct 25 2013

Profile Image of Ramsey Al-Khalil

Pelada

Filed under Films

I just finished watching Pelada, the documentary that’s been mentioned in class a few times.  It involves a couple that travels around the world playing in pick-up soccer matches in order to immerse themselves in the many different cultures they encounter.  A few of my favorite segments involved a Bolivian prison as well as their attempt at watching a Euro Cup match.  In the first clip, the couple bribes policemen in order to make their way into an infamous Bolivian prison that’s known by many as a “small city, big hell.”  Once they get in, they’re forced to bribe the prisoners that organize soccer matches in order for them to gain entrance onto the field.  Once they play, they bond with prisoners and listen to them tell their stories.  Something that interested me about this was that each of the prisoners they interviewed seemed to have a positive outlook on life in prison (as compared to their previous lives).  In another segment, the couple tries to buy tickets to a Euro Cup match between Spain and Sweden.  When they try and make their way through security, the tickets are discovered to be fakes and the two end up being interrogated for a while by the police.  Eventually, they’re found to be innocent victims and they get escorted out the back entrance of the stadium.  On their way out, they see firemen and paramedics playing a pickup game at the same time as the national match is going on.  Something funny about the scene was that the uniforms these men wore were identical in color to the red and yellow ones that Spain and Sweden wore, respectively.  I found this scene both amusing and inspiring, because it shows the universal love of the game and the lengths people go to experience a match even when they can’t afford to see it in person.  Overall, I’d highly recommend this film to anyone who hasn’t yet watched it.

One response so far

Jul 18 2010

Profile Image of Laurent Dubois

This Time for South Africa

Marcus Gilroy-Ware, who I went to several games with in South Africa, has produced this interesting short video about South African perspectives on the recent World Cup, featuring Achille Mbembe and Sarah Nutall (Visiting Professors at Duke this coming fall) among others.

I also published a set of final reflections on the World Cup, with Achille Mbembe, in French at Mediapart. Achille and I were guests on “The People’s Game” radio show at KPFK as the World Cup was winding down as well.

You can read Edouardo Galeano’s engaging reflections on the 2010 World Cup here.

But perhaps the most significant impact for me of this World Cup is that, on returning home, I downloaded the Shakira World Cup theme song and now am actually listening to it with pleasure in a state of rapturous and insane nostalgia.

No responses yet

May 20 2010

Profile Image of Laurent Dubois

Soccer Film Festival in the Triangle

Filed under Films

The Independent and the Carolina Railhawks are partnering up for a great series of film screenings linked to the World Cup, thanks to the organizing of David Fellerath, among others.  You can get all the information here!

No responses yet

Apr 08 2010

Profile Image of Laurent Dubois

Pelada at Full Frame Film Festival

For those of you who are in the Durham area and missed our screening of Pelada last fall, or who are eager to see the final cut, there will be two screenings of the film at the Full Frame Film Festival this weekend. There is a free screening in Durham Central Park at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 10th, and a ticketed screening at the film festival at 7:30 April 11th.

The film got a great review in Variety recently.

Congrats to our Duke alums Rebekah Fergusson, Gwendolyn Oxenham, and Ryan White (and of course their Notre Dame friend Luke Boughen) for the release of the film!

No responses yet

Feb 21 2010

Profile Image of Laurent Dubois

“Pelada” Reviewed at Sports Illustrated

Last fall we had a screening at Duke of the wonderful work-in-progress documentary Pelada. It will soon make its premier at the South by Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas, and Sports Illustrated has just published this review of the documentary. We’ll hope to see the film return to Durham in the not-too-distant future. Congratulations to Gwendolyn, Rebekah, Ryan and Luke!

No responses yet

Oct 30 2009

Profile Image of Laurent Dubois

Soccer Project Screening

We had the pleasure of hosting a screening of the work-in-progress Pelada (previously known to most of us as “The Soccer Project”) here at Duke on October 29th, and got the chance to talk to the filmmakers, three of whom are Duke alumni. As John Turnbull, editor of The Global Game and also a Duke alum, put it after the screening, the film somehow captures that football game many of us carry around in our heads — a pickup game, played in a random place with strangers, that can open up a space for community, communication, even communion. I thought it was a wonderful movie, as did the large crowd, which gave it a standing ovation. And we had the treat of perhaps the best question I have ever heard posed in a university setting, from a young boy who asked the essential question: “Why did you do it?”

I hope we’ll be able to host a local premier of the film when it is released next year, and I (along with the filmmakers, I’m sure!) would love to hear comments about the film from those who were there.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/-B5WxyGkDao" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

No responses yet

Oct 23 2009

Profile Image of Joaquin Bueno

Año maradoniano: On Emir Kusturica’s Maradona

That Kusturica’s documentary Maradona, chronicling perhaps world football’s biggest personality, begins with shots of the director playing his guitar at a concert, is telling. Introduced by his band as “the Maradona of the guitar,” it is clear, in retrospect, that what comes after is as much a defense of Kusturica as much as it is about the greatness of Maradona.

And this undertone is not surprising, considering the infamy preceding Kusturica–often accused of being a Milosevic idolizer and apologist for the Yugoslav civil war (not to mention the accusations of genocide that go hand-in-hand with it). To give some idea, Slovenian theorist and talking head Slavoj Zizek (evidently, not a fan of Kusturica’s) dedicates a chapter called “The Poetics of Ethnic Cleansing” to Kusturica’s films in his book The Plague of Fantasies.

A subtle moment presents us with this reality: when Maradona comes to visit him in Serbia, Kusturica’s voiceover relates his imperial indignation (specially relating to the Falklands/Malvinas war in which Argentine forces were pummeled by the British) to that of NATO bombing his own country. This feeling of injustice, of being hard done by thanks to the international conspiracy, is a thread uniting Emir and Diego, though, as we see during the film, the footballer’s case is quite a bit more compelling; rather than apology, Maradona shoots from the hip in his clearly stated ideology.

The larger than life Maradona speaks at length about his political stance, especially against imperialism. In some stirring scenes, he speaks before hundreds of thousands in the streets of Buenos Aires at an anti-globalization rally, alongside Evo Morales, Hugo Chávez (who chants Maradona to the riled-up crowd) and other South American leftist leaders. He tells of his audience with Fidel Castro, and his admiration for Che and the Cuban Revolution, his love for Cuba, and his adoration of the proletariat, all with convincing authenticity.

Yet at the same time, there are moments of ambiguity. At one point, Maradona, chatting with a panel, mentions his [now ex-]wife (also in the room), saying “I’ve always been the better looking of the pair.” One is left wondering if we are before a moment of humorous self-deprecation, or whether the man who admits he is God means it. At another point, in a one-on-one interview with Kusturica, he urges the interviewer to “image what I could have been if it weren’t for the cocaine.” Having seen plenty of glimpses of his personality, you wonder if the cocaine was an essential part of his wildly ego-centric character on the field, and if he wouldn’t have been the same, brilliant footballer without being locked in the spiral of self-absorption fueled by substance abuse. Or would he have taken Argentina to even more World Cup glory, or S.S.C. Napoli to European dominance?

At another point in the film, he actually expresses his regret for cocaine and substance abuse, if only because it kept him from being a better father to his two daughters. At the same time, he directly blames the fact that he was caught on conspiracies (quite believable, considering the recent history of Italian football institutions and the farcical refereeing scenes at the 2002 World Cup). His first big drug suspension came in 1991–the year after he knocked Italy out of the World Cup, their World Cup, played in Italy, which, according to “God,” was rigged for Italy to win. His 1994 suspension at the World Cup (for ephedrine use,which he claims resulted from an energy drink) was, according to him, the will of João Havelange, FIFA president at the time, and a supporter of Pelé (naturally, both Brazilians).

This latter face of Maradona, that of the unrepentant, unapologetic, regret-less revolutionary who fights a war against the power structures that try to control the world, is the most endearing face of his. The throngs of fans who follow his every move, who mob him when he returns to Naples just to get a glimpse of him, who founded the Church of Maradona, create a cult of personality whose beginning and end are confused by the infectious stardom of D10S (Dios). This godlike apparition seems to perpetuate itself.

Soon after his return home from one of his health issues, thousands gathered in the street to cheer him while he appears like the Pope at his apartment balcony–though he is a spiritual leader for them, he also appears like a God. The masses begin to chant his name rhythmically in a stadium song, and Maradona, Dios himself, bounces up and down, dancing at the will of his people like a fat little puppet.  In a day and age where liberal, secular, democracy rules the “first world,” the worship of Maradona hearkens back to a time when it was believed that human intervention could convince the gods, when a dance could conjure rain or a curse could sow disorder.

It is at this interstice of reason, this space of unrestrained megalomania, that the cult of Maradona makes more sense than ever. Beyond criticism, beyond political correctness, beyond self-regulation and biopolitics, we are presented with a figure who poses a refreshing, empowering, and revolutionary alternative. At the same time, between the lines, we see the shadows of another figure from this similar vein, and we cannot help but be wary of what accompanies it, from the killing fields of Yugoslavia, to the chaos of the Argentine national team under Maradona.

No responses yet

Oct 15 2009

Profile Image of Laurent Dubois

The Return of Maradona

Now that Argentina has (just barely) secured its spot in the 2010 World Cup after a tortuous and rocky qualifying run, fans of Argentina can breathe a little easier. One fan found occasion for an instant Youtube celebration of the last-minute goal against Uruguay, which shows an ecstatic Maradona jumping for joy. With his red scarf trailing behind him, he looks like a kid dressed up as Superman. He’s headed to South Africa, where as Peter Alegi writes, he hopes to fulfill a long-time dream: meeting Nelson Mandela.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/foxjm-m4emU" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

But of course, inevitably, the criticisms of Maradona (many of them justified) will no doubt continue. This is football, after all. And, more to the point, this is Maradona. If the player-turned-addict-turned-rehabilitated-coach is who he is, and what he is, it is precisely because he has always stirred up so much intensity among both his fans and his detractors. In Maradona by Kusturica, which we screened this past Tuesday at Duke as part of the Soccer Politics Series, the footballer seems to have met his match in the film-maker Kusturica, whose punchy and relentless style is as polarizing among viewers as Maradona’s playing was. But Maradona is, as the film itself hints, a better film character than any even the powerful imagination of Kusturica could have conjured up.

Here’s the preview, as well as a nice clip from the film of Manu Chao singing a celebratory song to Maradona in Buenos Aires.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/yKJUyxuc-24" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/AF8Vo6GfuSg" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

The film, though presented at Cannes, had a relatively subdued run in Europe, and a whiny tone shaped many of the English-language reviews published in the U.K., such as this one in the Independent. That’s not surprising, since — as Joaquin Bueno noted on this blog in a recent post — if anyone hates Maradona and can’t stop talking about how much they hate him it is a certain sector of opinion in England, for whom the 1986 “Hand of God” goal still registers as one of the great travesties in the history of football. In the film, Maradona joyously declares that with the goal, he felt liked he had picked the pocket of an Englishman, and explains that the Argentinian team went on the field with the idea that they were playing to avenge the dead soldiers killed by the British during the Falklands War four years earlier. And of course the film, complete with Sex Pistols-driven punk-style cartoons of Maradona infuriating Thatcher, the Queen, and Prince Charles, is not calibrated to ingratiate British viewers, though of course one can imagine that many of them would enjoy it precisely for this reason.

The film, which as of yet has no distribution in the U.S. — Netflix promises its release on DVD at some unspecified point in the future — is not tender with the U.S. either, though most of the hostility is directed at George Bush in tones that wouldn’t necessarily displease many a North American audience and would be right at home in a Michael Moore film. Critics of FIFA, meanwhile, will also enjoy some of Maradona’s barbs directed at figures like Havelange and Blatter.

Some critics have lamented that the film fails to find a coherent form, though I disagree. Ultimately what makes the film so great is precisely its irrepressible form as well as its uncomprimising celebration of Maradona. It’s not necessarily because I am as crazy about Maradona as Kusturica is — though the footage of his goals in the film is enough to win over more than one convert — but because it captures more closely than any other I know both the incomprehensible grace and the liberating madness of football.

No responses yet

Sep 16 2009

Profile Image of Laurent Dubois

“The Other Final”

Filed under Films

Other Final Image

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/o-ayTDcpgfw" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Gerry Canavan comments on The Other Final on his blog.

Other reactions to the film?

No responses yet

Older Posts »

css.php