Rendezvous with the makers of Pelada

By | November 2, 2013

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 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.

One thought on “Rendezvous with the makers of Pelada

  1. Jarrett Link

    Just finished watching Pelada, and I must say it was quite an eye opening film. People from all around the world have such an unwavering love for the game, nothing more and nothing less. It was interesting to track Gwendolyn’s subtle transformation over the course of the film. Initially, she seemed to crave competition and games with meaning. For instance, when she played in the prison match in La Paz, Bolivia, she said that was the most exciting game she had played because of the atmosphere, quality of play, and number of spectators. And yet, in the end, her worldwide experiences allowed her to accept the fact that she was no longer skilled enough to play with the best women in America. She had become content with having a love for the game, nothing more and nothing less.


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