Football Mania at Art Film Fest

Ken Loach’s film Looking for Eric (2009) is a compelling mix of powerful social drama and tragicomedy about everyday outsiders and legends who from time to time manage to descend from the starlit heavens or the poster on the wall to help their fans. Which is just how it goes with British postman and football enthusiast Eric Bishop. His life is falling apart right before his eyes, he isn’t able to meet with his ex-wife, his adopted sons are in serious trouble and Eric himself is contemplating suicide. Will his idol, former Manchester United footballer Eric Cantona, manage to help him? For his portrayal of the postman, actor Steve Evets was nominated for a European Film Award for Best Actor.

Football fever can arise anywhere in the world, and this is proven by Phorpha (The Cup, d. K. Norbu, 1999), the first-ever Tibetan-language film. This story, based on actual events, shows how Buddhist philosophy and football fervour aren’t quite as distant from each other as they might seem. The film depicts two Tibetan boys who have run away from their homeland and taken refuge in a Buddhist monastery, all while the World Cup in France is underway. The monks’ lives and zeal for football are portrayed with equal amounts of light-hearted humour and respect. The film won the FIPRESCI prize at the Pusan IFF in Korea.

A completely different side of football is presented in the British film Football Factory (d. N. Love, 2004), based on the literary work of John King, a former football hooligan backing Chelsea F.C. Over a brilliant soundtrack, the viewer is taken on a wild ride through violence, brawls, drugs, sex and existential problems, filmed in a documentary style to highlight the serious social problems with a healthy dose of British humour.

We find similar themes even closer to home. Back in 1987, director Karel Smyczek shot the powerful film Proč? (Why?), revealing the negative impacts of football hooliganism. The picture was inspired by an actual incident when a group of young football fans destroyed a train car and seriously endangered their fellow passengers and a female train guard. Even now it is a disturbing glimpse of what people are capable of when influenced by a powerful group.

Problems of a totally different nature are addressed by the German documentary Football Under Cover (d. D. Assmann, A. Najafi, 2008), which recounts the German women’s football team’s attempt to organize a friendly match with the Iranian women’s team, who have yet to play against another team. But arranging all the necessary permits through the Iranian bureaucracy and obtaining suitable women’s clothing in Tehran proves to be extremely difficult. The film was awarded as best documentary at the 2008 Berlinale.

Our football section will also include John Huston’s classic war film Victory (1981), featuring a football match between POWs and their Nazi captors, as well as a documentary on Czechoslovakia’s last football team’s appearance at the 1990 World Cup, Ciao, Italia! (1991) and even more titles.

Photographs can be found at in the Press section.

The Art Film Fest International Film Festival Trenčianske Teplice/Trenčín is made possible through the financial support of the Audiovisual Fund and the European Union Programme MEDIA.   

Organizers: ART FILM, n. o., Forza, a. s. Co-organizers: the Town of Trenčianske Teplice, the City of Trenčín, the Trenčianske Teplice Health Spa General Sponsors: Dôvera Medical Insurance, AquaCity Poprad Main Sponsors: Tatra banka, Slovnaft, Veolia Voda – Central Slovakian Waterworks, OHL ŽS, Alison Slovakia Official Transport Provider: Lancia Logistics Sponsor: DHL; Free student cinepasses provided by: Prvá stavebná sporitelna (First Housing-Construction Savings Bank) Sponsor of the Slovak Season section: Zlatý Bažant; Sponsors: AVI Studio, Baske Guest House, Park Hotel na Baračke Official Suppliers: HUBERT J.E., Kláštorná, GS design, Philips, A Briliant Media Sponsors: Slovak Television, Markíza Television, FilmBox, CSTV, Central Europe Television, Rádio Europa 2, Rádio Hit FM, Pravda, .týždeň, Markíza, Pardon, Cinemax, Kam do mesta,, Boomerang Media, SITA, euroAWK,