Kicking & Screening with Rachel Markus: K+S Soccer Film Festival New York Preview

Posted: July 18, 2011 in Football & Cinema, Football Culture, Football Leisure

I woke up this morning thinking ‘I really love twitter’. Besides following hundreds of thousands of Women’s World Cup tweets over the past weeks granting me access to back stories, side stories, commentary, and players’ thoughts from Germany, I have to thank twitter (and Alexi Lalas) for ‘introducing’ me to the Kicking + Screening Soccer Film Festival.  A four-day festival dedicated to soccer films, most of them never screened before, right here in our backyard? Yes! I ventured to the K+S site, saw the amazing roster of films slated for the 3rd annual New York festival, July 20-23rd, and booked my flight. That was about a month ago, so it’s hard to believe the festivities are only a few days away.

Recently, I had the pleasure to chat with Rachel Markus, Kicking & Screening brainchild (along with Greg Lalas), about the festival’s background, the features and short films being screened, and the detailed festival schedule …

TRF: Rachel (RM), I am thoroughly excited about this Wednesday night’s K&S New York Soccer Film Festival kick-off and have been following your stories and updates on the blog and twitter.  For starters, I wanted to provide TheRealFutbol readers some more details, a ‘tale of the tape’ if you will, on K+S prior to the event and highlight the daily festival schedule. Let’s start with a bit of background.

RM: The Kicking & Screening Soccer Film Festival is an annual New York-based event that brings together soccer and film enthusiasts to celebrate the beautiful game as expressed on film. K+S provides a forum for filmmakers, artists, and writers to showcase their work.

The success of the inaugural 2009 sold-out K+S New York festival spurred not only a repeat in 2010, but also satellite festivals in Washington, DC, Houston, North Adams, Mass., and, most recently, Amsterdam. To date, the festival has presented seven U.S. premieres, a speaker series featuring respected bloggers, writers, and journalists from the soccer world, and a photo exhibit. In September 2011, K+S will return to Europe for the first K+S Football Film Festival in London.

TRF: The 2011 K&S Soccer film festival taking place at Tribeca Cinemas July 20th-23rd features 11 films including a US and World premiere. Please tell us more about the selections and the process.

RM: One of my biggest thrills of co-producing this festival has always been previewing the various film submissions. This year alone, we received 55 films from 25 countries including Pakistan, Indonesia, and South Africa. While the overriding theme is of course soccer we are very open about the specific twist or angle various filmmakers present. For example, several of the selections this year are not about specific games or rivalries but actually focus on behind the scenes soccer activities and in one case a referee’s dream turned nightmare.

In terms of the K+S 2011 NY screening schedule, we are excited to present 6 short films and 5 features (with a double feature planned for the last night) including the US premiere of “Rise & Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story” on Thursday, July 21st, and the premiere of “Match 64” on Saturday.

TRF: You mentioned including a ‘speaker series’ as part of past K&S festivals. Can you provide more details about what you have in store?

RM: We recently announced our speaker panel series for all four days and will have New York Red Bulls GM/sporting director Erik Soler and ESPN soccer analyst Alexi Lalas headlining this year. All panel discussions will be held at Tribeca Cinemas, after the evening’s screenings, and include directors, producers, and writers from the majority of K+S’s official film selections. The full panel discussion schedule includes:

  • “The Passion of the Game” — Wednesday, July 20: Gavin Sullivan, writer and producer of Argentina Futbol Club (feature selection); Rick Ball, writer, producer, and Manchester United fan
  • “Over There: The Battle for American Respect in Europe” — Thursday, July 21: Alexi Lalas, ESPN soccer analyst and former US national team star; Nick Lewis and Ranko Tutulugdzija, writers and directors of Rise & Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story
  • “Developing Talent or Trafficking Players? Player movement from Africa,” — Friday, July 22: Erik Soler, GM/sporting director of the New York Red Bulls; Simon Laub and Sam Potter, producers of Soka Afrika
  • “Pressure at the Highest Level” — Saturday, July 23: Daniel Gordon, director of Match 64; Mattias Löw, director of Rättskiparen

TRF: Who is your typical ‘K+S’ enthusiast? And what sort of a turnout to you expect this week? And, if I want to check out the festival, but can only come out one night, when should I go?

RM: Since its inception, we literally have had 1000s of soccer film fans come out and support the craft. Of that group, we have welcomed artists, filmmakers, professional soccer players, other athletes, sports commentators, journalists, underground film lovers as well as ‘regular’ folks who enjoy movies. Estimated attendance for K+S NY? We have had encouraging pre-event buzz this year and are definitely presenting the most impressive roster of films to date.  With that said, it would be great to sell 200 tickets for each nightly screening.  In terms of when to come to the festival, I would say purchase a 4 day pass but if that’s not feasible, there’s truly something for everyone.  From the perspective of the fans’ passion (Opening Night) to reliving that incredible chill of experiencing and watching World Cup victory (Closing Night), each set of films and panel discussions will be captivating.

TRF: We know that the screenings all take place at night, but can you please give us a run-down of the daily festival schedule and some more details on the venue?

RM: Sure.  Doors open at 6:30pm, and the Red Bulls Street Team freestylers will be performing before the films.  The film screenings begin a 7:30pm.  Immediately following the films, the discussion panels will be held in the bar/lounge area.  And of course, part of the fun of the festival is pre- and post socializing in the bar with fellow soccer enthusiasts, players, writers, and filmmakers.

TRF: Your website lists a very impressive list of festival partners and sponsors including the New York Red Bulls. We know that the Red Bulls are playing on Saturday before the last night of K&S screenings. Are you planning anything special? Encouraging folks to attend the game?

RM: Yes, we are very proud of the community and international support for the festival and especially excited about the Red Bulls partnership. As you mentioned, they play FC Dallas at Red Bull Arena (located in Harrison, NJ) on Saturday at 6pm and the team has designated a special promo code for all K&S event goers and is offering discounted tickets for Saturday’s game. Tickets can be purchased here using the promo code RBNYKANDS.

TRF: Lastly, when we spoke, you mentioned donating some of the K&S proceeds to charity. What a great idea, can you please elaborate?

RM: We have been working with charities since starting K+S three years ago and usually partner with a local organization. This year, we chose Soccer Without Borders which runs community-led, year-round youth development programs in under-served areas in the USA and abroad. Based in Berkeley, CA, Soccer Without Borders currently operates 7 year-round programs in 5 countries on 3 continents.

Rachel, thank you so much for your time, good luck with the K+S Festival and see you there.

  1. […] of the really cool aspects of this week’s NYC Kicking + Screening Soccer Film Festival is discovering films and topics that I would otherwise never hear about, let alone watch. One […]

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