ON THE SILVER SCREEN Soccer film festival in NYC in July
Kicking & Screening International Soccer Film Festival (KS09), a pioneering festival of soccer-themed films screened at various locales in New York City, is set to make its debut this summmer.
The festival program runs from Tuesday, July 14, through Saturday, July 18, and includes appearances by some of the films’ principal figures, such as former Cosmos goalkeeper Shep Messing (Once in a Lifetime).
Unlike traditional film festivals, KS09 screenings will mostly take place in soccer-friendly venues, celebrating the beautiful game’s grassroots tradition and global reach. The venues are similarly as diverse as the films, a tribute to the broad appeal of the sport to expatriates and New Yorkers alike.
“These movies tap into the international language of soccer and are fueled with the unique passion we all share for the game,” said former U.S. international defender and ex-MetroStars president and GM Alexi Lalas, a member of the KS09 advisory board. “As a 13-year-old watching a movie like Victory, I was mesmerized by the soccer action and captivated by the equally dramatic story. It's this type of experience that is the basis for Kicking & Screening.”
Opening the festival on July 14, is Les Yeux dans les Bleus, a penetrating documentary following the victorious French National Team during the 1998 World Cup. With intimate access to the players, director Stéphane Meunier captured the emotion that make soccer and its characters so compelling. He shared their rituals, their doubts, their joys, their exploits and in the end, their conquest, as if we were with them.
Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos, a humorous and revealing biopic of America’s most famous soccer team will be show on July 15. Recalling the disco era of New York City in the 1970s, Once in a Lifetime features such international superstars as Pele and Franz Beckenbauer. Messing, who works as an on-air analyst for ESPN and MSG, is scheduled to introduce the film.
July 16 will feature a viewing party of the highly anticipated match between the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Red Bulls, which is set to mark David Beckham’s return to the Galaxy. Preceding the match, a panel of journalists and pundits will discuss “David Beckham in America,” analyzing his impact on soccer in the U.S.
Friday’s screening of FC Barcelona Confidential underscores that the beautiful game is often more than just a game. Politicized and marketed, soccer can be a potent symbol of cultural identity. The recent winners of the Champions League, FC Barcelona, are not only a Catalan institution, but also the most popular club worldwide. The film delves into the efforts of a new board in 2003, amidst poor domestic performance and spiraling debt, to become a leading global soccer franchise.
In closing on Saturday, July 18, KS09 will present In the Hands of the Gods, a coming-of-age road movie about five soccer freestylers trying to busk their way from London to Buenos Aires in search of Argentine legend Diego Maradona. Directors (and brothers) Benjamin and Gabe Turner explore themes of identity, fulfillment, self-knowledge and self-expression in the freestylers’ quest to meet their hero.
“When a game matters to billions of people, it ceases to be just a game,” notes Simon Kuper, sports correspondent for The Financial Times and author of Soccer Against the Enemy. “It was only a matter of time before good football films started to be made. FC Barcelona Confidential is just one wonderful example.”
A portion of the proceeds from KS09 will go to Grassroot Soccer, an international nonprofit using the power of soccer in the fight against HIV/AIDS.