Archive for the ‘Football & Cinema’ Category

Roughly 12 months ago, TRF covered the 3rd annual Kicking & Screening (K+S) soccer film festival in New York City. We were and remain fascinated by the idea of a festival dedicated to nothing but football films; full length features, shorts, foreign, home-grown, and many never publicly screened before. At the time, we had a chance to interview Rachel Markus, Kicking & Screening brainchild and co-founder, about the festival’s background, the features and short films being screened, and the detailed festival schedule. So, when Rachel emailed me a few weeks back asking about my participation at this year’s 4th New York festival, I wanted to make sure we included a ‘second act’ interview.

From left: Rachel Markus, K+S co-founder, film/production crew of Rise and Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story, Greg Lalas (second from right), K+S co-founder, and Alexi Lalas, former USMNT player and K+S film panel participant

K+S New York 2012 Highlight Reel

  • World Premiere of “1:1: Thierry Henry” (June 28), “Gringos at the Gate” (June 27) and Rivals: Celtic vs. Rangers
  • US premiere of ‘The Four Year Plan and ‘The Last Proletarians of Football’
  • Festival Runs June 27-30 at World-Famous Tribeca Cinemas
  • June 27 & 28 screenings sold out but tickets still available for June 29 & 30th
  • Marquee sponsor KICKTV will stream some of the K+S NYC films in the near future as part of its new YouTube soccer documentary channel
  • 10 soccer films including 6 features and 4 shorts from 9 countries. See the complete K+S NYC 2012 schedule here.
  • 4 nights, 4 themes: June 27 ‘Enemies Forever: Great Rivalries’; June 28 ‘Yes, I Can: The Individual Spirit’; June 29 ‘Secrets of Success’; June 30 ‘Soccer & Politics’
  • Each film night includes post-screening panel discussions with producers & directors as well as an after party at the Varick room
  • K+S’s chosen charitable partner for 2012 is the international soccer nonprofit Coaches Across Continents, which uses football to improve the health and well-being of disadvantaged children in developing countries.
TRF’s Q&A with Rachel Markus about the Kicking + Screening Soccer Film Festival New York City, June 27-30

TRF: It’s been nearly a year since TRF attended the 2011 K+S Soccer Film Fest in New York City and you guys are now back with the 4th, 2012 edition. What has happened at K+S within the last year?

RM (Rachel Markus): K+S has been extremely busy and closely involved in various national and international football film festivals. After a very successful K+S NYC last July, we hosted our inaugural ‘Rewind: K+S London’ football film fest (with a tremendous amount of guidance from UK football media legends Grant Best and Tom Watt) an 8 day fall event spanning dozens of films and uniting football heroes of past and present. In addition, we were asked to help curate football films for the Kerala (India) International Film Fest and ended up adding 7 renowned indie football selections to the sports film program.  While NYC and London will remain our two annual staple festivals we are always looking to work with cities with a strong soccer culture to host smaller, satellite festivals. For example, we previously did this in DC, were involved in a similar event in Liverpool, England and are planning a K+S Portland later this fall.

TRF: What are the main film fest highlights this year?

RM: This year we decided to theme each film night (5 total) and screen multiple features at one time due to an increase in fantastic film submissions we received. The first two nights include the highest profile films with ‘Gringos at the Gate‘, a feature on why US vs. Mexico has become the most fiery and socially significant clash in international soccer, and ‘1:1 Thierry Henry‘, a behind the scenes documentary into the French football legend’s move to the MLS’ New York Red Bulls. The Henry film in particular is sure to attract a drove of local Arsenal supporters and Red Bull players and staff.  Other incredible features include  ‘The Four Year Plan’, Queen Park Rangers’ future with new billionaire owners, and ‘The Last Proletarians of Football’, Sven-Göran Eriksson’s socialist-leaning revolution that led IFK Göteborg’s semi-pro squad to the 1982 UEFA Cup

TRF: Last year, we thought the post-screening panel discussions were riveting and very well attended. Are any panels planned for this year?

RM: The panels are definitely the most popular aspect of our screenings since film goers have a chance to meet the producer and directors behind the films as well as football personalities who show up. Several of the films’ directors including 1:1 Thierry Henry director, Austrian Verena Soltiz, will be there.

K+S founder Greg Lalas chats with Simon Laub and Sam Potter, producers of Soka Afrika, during a K+S NY Film Fest panel discussion

TRF: How many film submissions did you have for the 2012 New York edition?

RM: We had a record 50 submission including numerous short films. We ended up choosing 10 selections including six feature-length films and four shorts.

TRF: I know that Wednesday and Thursday are already sold out but if I can only make it to one other night of the screenings which one do you recommend?

RM: Friday or Saturday nights are good options, not only for soccer fans, but film lovers and any one interested in idea exchange and panel discussions.

TRF: We see that KICKTV is a new sponsor this year. Tell us more about this partnership.

RM: Sure. KICKTV, our marquee sponsor, is a digital network dedicated to soccer. Like the site says, it’s YouTube’s global headquarters to the beautiful game.  Ideologically, it’s a great fit for both entities and will help broaden the viewership and interest level of soccer films. We know they will soon launch a documentary-type channel on their network so many of the films we feature at K+S festivals will be available there as well. While we continue to value the New York Red Bull’s support and community partnership, we are really excited about what KICKTV will bring to the festival and the global soccer film enthusiast.

While TRF will not be able to attend the 2012 K+S NYC soccer film fest, we will continue to support this worthy initiative from afar and look forward to seeing some of this year’s content on KICKTV in the future.

One 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 of these gems is Friday’s short film selection ‘The Final Fax’, directed by German filmmakers Nico Raschick and Birke Birkner.

The 15-minute flick features Martin Sonneborn, editor of a German satire magazine, and his attempts to bribe eight members of the 24-member FIFA executive committee on the eve of the World Cup 2006 host country vote. Sonneborn’s bribe letter offers gifts, mostly eatable, in return for votes for Germany. The unthinkable happens and New Zealand delegate Charles Dempsey abstains from voting (after having been instructed to vote for South Africa), thus swinging the World Cup 2006 host decision Germany’s way. Here’s a ‘Frage und Antwort’ (Q&A session) we had with Nico Raschik (NR). We have kept the original in German and added English translations (in BOLD) for each question.

TRF: Wie lange machst Du schon Filme? How long have you been making movies?

NR: Ich arbeite seit 1999 beim Film und habe meinen ersten Kurzfilm und Musikvideo im Jahr 2000 gemacht. I’ve been working in the genre since 1999 and produced my first short and music video in 2000.

TRF: Was is Dein Bezug zur Thematik? Zum Fussball? What is your background and relationship to the film/topic?

NR: Ich selber war in meiner Kindheit sehr erfolgreicher Leistungssportler.  Aber man muß wohl kein Sportler, geschweige denn ein Prophet sein, um zu erkennen, dass es leider bei allem nicht mehr um Sport, um Fußball geht. Und nach unserem Film ging es ja weiter – ich meine, was macht eine FußbalWM in Katar? Growing up, I was always involved in competitive sports. But, one need not be a professional athlete or a prophet to recognize that sport, and in this case football, has taken a back seat (to corruption, politics …). Case in point, how did a football world cup end up in Qatar?

Als Regisseur geht es mir aber immer mehr auch um das, was drunter liegt. Ein Leitspruch, den ich bei dem Film die ganze Zeit im Kopf hatte, war,  „wenn es am schlimmsten ist, soll man tanzen „. Das zeigt sich dann eben in der letzten Szene, wenn Sonneborn mit dem Rücken an die Wand steht und 100 MIo zahlen soll…wenn es am schlimmsten ist, soll man tanzen. Im Sport sollt es spielerisch zugehen und um Leidenschaft – und die hat Sonneborn. Das sieht man in der kleinen Szene, wenn das Titanicteam gegen die Businesstypen spielen. Sie können bei weitem nicht mithalten – aber spielen mit Herz☺

In my role as a director, I am always looking for what is underneath it all, below the surface. One of the themes I kept on remembering as we were shooting was ‘when things are bad and the odds stacked against you, go ahead and dance’. The point is to remain light-hearted, yet focused. Sports should focus on performance and passion (and having fun while playing). 

TRF: Has Du und Deine Filme schon mal bei einem Soccer/Fussballfilmfest mitgemacht? Have you ever participated in a soccer film festivals? Have you produced other soccer films?

NR: Nein – wie ich schon sagte, geht es mir immer eher um etwas, was drunter liegt. Ich weiß, dass man jemanden von außen immer  gerne auf eine Sache festmachen mag: Du hast einen Horrorfilm gemacht – war doch schön, was ist dein nächster Horrorfilm? So ist es genauso mit Fußball, Komödie… Generell bin ich kein Fan zu sagen, hauptsache das Genre oder die eine Sache – ich bin ein Fan von Geschichten. Und diese Geschichte mußte einfach gemacht werden.

No. It is human nature to categorize everything and try to pigeon-hole someone based on what they have done before …’ you make horror movies, what’s your next horror film? I like to focus on stories and why certain stories must be told as opposed to specific genres.

TRF: Gibt es eine Zusammenfassung/highlights vom Kurzfilm? Summarize The Final Fax. What’s the main message?

NR: Es geht um Leidenschaft  wie beim Fußball – und wie man 2006 die dt. Mannschaft spielen gesehen hat, haben sie leidenschaftlich gespielt – das ist Sport, denn sie waren ja nicht die technisch besten oder auch drittbesten, aber die Mannschaft mit dem größten Herz.  Deshalb wohl in dem Film das Highlight: die Montage zwischen dem leidenschaftlichen (aber hoffnungslosen) Spiel von Sonnborn und den geldumhangennen Machtmenschen der FIFA. It’s all about passion. Persönlich mag ich aber die letzte Szene: wenn alles festgefahren scheint und Sonneborn eigentlich so unter Druck steht, dass er erfürchtig (wie alle anderen) vor den Funtionären mit der Macht hinknien müßte. Gib nicht auf, halt an deiner Überzeugung fest + wenn es am schlimmsten ist, soll man tanzen.

In The Final Fax, it’s all about showing the passionate but hopeless game played by the main character Martin Sonneborn pitted against the mighty and corrupt FIFA powerbrokers. And in the end, against all odds, with the all-powerful football officials and politicians breathing down his neck and making him beg for mercy, Sonneborn does not give up or sell out his believes. Remember, when things are bad and the odds stacked against you, all you can do is dance! Side note: This never say die attitude was put on display during the 2006 World Cup, when the German National Team played with a fire,passion and conviction that had not been seen in decades. They were not the best technicians but displayed the biggest heart. That’s my take-away for The Final Fax … heart, passion and conviction. 

TRF: Wie kamst Du an dieses Thema? How did you end up focused on this particular topic?

NR: So ist der Film nach einer realen Vorlage entstanden, als eine Satire auf die reale Satire, welche in der FIFA und Fußballwelt gespielt wird. Und das nicht als reines Abbild, sondern so wie aus der Sicht von Sonneborn erzählt. Denn Martin Sonneborn hätte ja ebenfalls einen ernsthaften Spiegelartikel schreiben können über Korruption im Fußball. Nur dann hätte doch jeder gesagt: langweilig, weiß ich doch. Und so hat er selber bestochen: mit einem Korb mit leckeren Würstchen und einer Kukuksuhr. Er machte Satire – und führte dazu, was er hätte sich selber nicht besser wünschen können: zur WM im eigenen Land. So sollte der Film auch sein und ich habe viele Originalzitate gesammelt und mehrere Ereignisse aus umfangreicher Reschersche zu der Geschichte verdichtet.

The film is a satire based on the satire of organizations like FIFA and other powerful football entities. What makes this film unique is Martin Sonneborn’s approach. As a publication editor, he could have chosen the high (boring) road  and written a serious article about corruption in football. The result would have been very predictable … ‘we know about corruption … boring’. Instead, he decided to turn the tables and be the one that lead the corruption and bribery efforts. His offer, a gift basket filled with specialties from the Black Forest and a Kukuclock , ultimately lead to the unraveling of the ‘business as usual’ FIFA and to a highly controversial 2006 world cup host.

TRF: Wo schon ge-screened? Has the film been shown before?

NR: Ich hab den Film in Berlin auf einem Festival gesehen – mit Martin Sonneborn. Das war nen schöner Abend. The Final Fax feiert allerdings be Kicking & Screening New York sein US Premiere. We screened the film at a festival in Berlin with Martin Sonneborn in attendance. That was a fun evening. The Final Fax will be celebrating its US premier at the Kicking+Screening soccer festival this week in New York.

This wraps-up our Q&A with Nico. Make sure to stop by the K&S Soccer Film Fest tonight (July 22) to check out The Final Fax and the evening’s feature presentation Soka Afrika. Also, thanks to Nico’s partner in crime, producer Birke Birkner, you can download the official Final Fax Press Kit (in German).

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.

I was recently perusing some blog roles/favorite sites and came across Dave Wasser’s historic soccer videotapes, an online catalog of 1000s of soccer videos including the largest consolidated collection of North American Soccer League (NASL) matches. I am a very small-time collector of soccer videos, mostly world cup footage and Germany matches, but was immediately intrigued, and ended up spending the next few hours scrolling through the video catalog sorted by NASL; World Cup; Women’s Soccer; and ‘other international matches’.

After contacting site owner Dave, I thought it would be well worth posting a ‘Q&A’ about his significant collection, passion for the New York Cosmos (and Atari), and thoughts on the historic NASL vs. modern MLS …

TRF: Dave (DW), I read somewhere that your archive of USA soccer videos is bigger than the combined archives of the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame and the U.S. Soccer Federation. How did your obvious obsession with American soccer and especially the (original) NASL start?

DW: I grew up in New York City, a fan of the NY Cosmos. In the late 1970s the most important things in my life were Atari video games, baseball and the New York Cosmos. I am not so much of a baseball fan these days, and Atari isn’t around any more (is it?) but I still love the Cosmos, even though they went out of business in 1985. Then, 15 years ago, I started collecting videos of the original broadcasts of NASL games. I now have over 350 DVDs of NASL games and actively trade tapes to continually add to it.

TRF: Your site really has a phenomenal collection of soccer match videos that reaches far beyond NASL. How many total soccer recordings do you now have? And, assuming it is not cheap to transfer some of the older footage to DVDs, which match/matches has been the most expensive conversion from old tape to DVD?

DW: I don’t know the exact number of games I have, but it’s in the thousands. Many of the old games were on 3/4 inch U-matic tape, so I bought a used U-matic machine on eBay for $25. I found an elderly man in Illinois who had recorded a ton of games on Beta, so I bought a used Betamax VCR to convert those tapes. Occasionally, I’ll find games on an obsolete video format, then it is a struggle to get them converted. DC Video in California can help with the old formats. Last year I spent $500 to convert a 1968 match between Manchester City and the Atlanta Chiefs. A 9 minute clip courtesy of Dave can be viewed here.

TRF: What is your most requested match tape? The most obscure one in the collection? You’ve shared your ten favorite NASL games, but what about World Cup or Champions League matches?

DW: My most requested DVD is the 1970 World Cup Final, where Brazil beat Italy. That was Pele’s third, and final, world championship. The surprising thing about that match is that it was not even broadcast on American television. (I have the BBC broadcast of it.) I suppose the most obscure game in my collection is the 1973 NASL Final, won by the Philadelphia Atoms. That was only broadcast locally in Philadelphia, but somehow I found someone who had a recording of it. By the way, I love the name of that team. I was disappointed when MLS put a team in Philadelphia and decided not to use the name Atoms…My favorite World Cup match was the USA’s 1994 upset of Colombia. That was the match that showed that American soccer could compete against the best teams in the world (and that losing a match can have fatal consequences)

TRF: Do you follow Major League Soccer? In your opinion, what’s the biggest difference to the original NASL of the 70s? Where will the league be 5 years from now?

DW: Yes, I follow MLS. The big difference between the two leagues is that most MLS teams are playing in new soccer-specific stadiums. The NASL had to play in giant football and baseball stadiums, and that could look terrible. MLS still has a few teams playing in stadiums not designed for soccer. Hopefully in five years there will be new soccer stadiums in Washington and Boston. Another big difference is that the NASL did not have a salary cap, so the rich teams dominated the poor teams. The NASL considered a salary cap, and didn’t implement it. That was a big mistake. I think that European soccer is making the same mistake now letting a few rich teams dominate all the others.

TRF: As a soccer historian, you have followed the evolution of USA soccer. How do you rank the national team’s current competitiveness? And do you think we will ever reach true global dominance?

DW: The United States national team is in about the same place it has been for the past 15 years. We’re a good team, but not a great team. The important thing is that America now has a youth development system in place to produce a number of good players. But America still has not produced a global superstar in the sport. I have to wonder when that will happen.

TRF: You mention the New York Cosmos documentary “Once In A Lifetime” and how it really captured the passion for soccer during that time. Any modern-day, MLS equivalent?

DW: Not really. MLS has a much better business model than the NASL had, but no MLS team has been as popular (or as reviled) as the Cosmos in their time.

TRF: As you may know, TheRealFutbol (TRF) blog in part caters to those new to soccer as well as skeptics who are convinced the real football is the pigskin, American version. And then there are folks who hate soccer because it is much too low scoring. With that said, please recommend a few matches regardless of league or country that are ‘must views’ for those new to the game as well as any nil-nil draws that left you spellbound.

DW: A few years ago, the USA and Argentina played a great scoreless draw in the Meadowlands. The 1999 Women’s World Cup Final between the USA and China was a great game, even though there were no goals scored. But with that said, there are plenty of scoreless draws that are disappointing. MLS has had a huge number of scoreless draws this season. I would prefer to see 0-0 draws result in no points for either team in the standings. Tie games where goals are scored should still result in a point for each team in the standings.

TRF: Finally, we really appreciate you taking time to chat with us. Please let folks know how to best get in touch with you and place a historic soccer video order? Note: I just received my first soccer tape order (1966, 70′ and 74′ World Cup Finals) and am extremely content with value and quality.

DW: People can contact me on my web site My email address and phone number are there as well. Thanks!