Filmic Football Fever!

All of a sudden we’re busy every night. Every tiny bar has at least one flatscreen set up, shouts and screams roam the streets. The European Cup has started! The football fever is back and will certainly infatuate many more within the next three weeks. Football moves the masses. Since Friday flags are everywhere: they are hanging from balconies and cars, they become skirts and capes, and even shots of strawberry limes and other liqueurs are layered to represent flags. Personally, I’m not a big fan of this national pride everyone seems to be wearing on their cheeks these days, but as soon as it’s kick off, I’m there!

Of course football is also one massive piece of theatre! Players, coaches and fans know their parts by heart, and of course every striker knows what to do after scoring a goal in order to satisfy the audience. I’m sure this European Cup will provide plenty of joyous dancing, pulled up shirts and sliding on the grass; as well as weeping men and ripped flags hanging in trees whenever it didn’t end up well.

For those fans who can’t get enough, the following films will provide additional football entertainment. And for those who don’t watch football, well at least you’ll be able to take part in the conversation a little…

Before I get started I’d like to add that there are plenty of films about football. I tried to find some that are not the one everybody already knows such as Bend it like Beckham, Deutschland ein Sommermärchen, Das Wunder von Bern, Hooligans, Looking for Eric and Der ganz grosse Traum. So none of these will be part of the selection.

The Damned United (D: Tim Hooper, UK 2009)

The adaptation of David Peace’s novel with the same title tells the tale of legendary British coach Brian Clough (Michael Sheen). With his assistant coach Peter Taylor (Timothy Spall) Clough leads underdog Derby County to the championship with his extrovert personality and unconventional approach. Without any folderol or constructed insights onto his personal live Hooper tells the rise and fall of the still highly respected coach Clough in a straightforward and very enjoyable manner.

Fever Pitch (D: David Evans, UK 1997)

Apart from coach and players, fans are an important part of football. Paul Ashworth (Colin Firth) is an avid fan of Arsenal and struggles to make room among his routines for Sarah (Ruth Gemmell) when he falls in love with her. Although a classic romcom, the film might spark the yearning for a similar passion in some. Because Paul does have a point: most dreams from our childhood have long been given up or forgotten.

Offside (D: Jafar Panahi, IRQ 2006)

Iranian women aren’t allowed to watch sport events in a stadium. At the World Cup qualifying game against Bahrain some still try to get in. When they are arrested and kept outside the stadium, they start discussing all sorts of things with the soldiers keeping them. The film, which currently oscillates between documentary style and staged episodes, was awarded with the silver bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 2006 and is certainly the most political football film that I’ve ever seen.

Die beste Frauen der Welt (D: Britta Becker, D 2010)

Co-produced by Sönke Wortmann, this is the female counterpart to his famous Deutschland – ein Sommermärchen. Becker accompanies the German national team on their journey to the World Cup 2007 in China. And let me tell you: it ends better than it did for the men…

Ultra (D: Ricky Tognazzi, IT 1990)

Loving your own team is not enough for some fans, who just also hate the other team(s). The film Ultra describes the life’s of some Italian hooligans in the late 80s. It’s not for the faint-hearted, because the film shows violence in a quite realistic way. The film was shown at the 1991 Berlinale, and director Tognazzi received the Silver Bear for it. I couldn’t find a trailer, but here’s the beginning of the film…

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