I often find myself so immersed in the world of football on foreign shores that I miss what’s going on in my own backyard. This is New York City, after all, so there’s a lot going on. Fortunately this week I was put in contact with Rachel Markus and for the moment, I’m focused on this part of the world again. Rachel is the founder and director of the Kicking and Screening Film Festival, the 2nd annual version of which will take place from June 1 – 5 in Tribeca Cinemas.
Full disclosure, early on: Rachel offered me press passes to the week’s films if I blogged about it. That’s a reasonable deal, I think, and one that I hope you end up appreciating as well. I’m super pumped to see the films (the lineup can be found here). Besides my general interest in football as a whole, there’s going to be a film, El Arbitro, about a Spanish ref adjudicating a match between Barça and Espanyol by Justin Webster, the guy who made FC Barcelona Confidential, which was shown at last year’s K&S.
I obviously haven’t seen these films, but given that I missed out on my opportunity to see Confidential and other K&S films last year only because I was out of town and had to force my friends to go without me, I think I can say you should go see these films if you’re in the NYC area. You’ll be surrounded by some of American soccer’s most important thinkers, other cool types, and you’ll get to meet me too, if you’d like. I can’t believe I’m not headlining this thing…You can get tickets here, apparently, and as they point out on their website, last year sold out, so get them nowish-like.
It’s not just watching football films with other like-minded nerds, though. K&S works in conjunction with and gives a portion of their proceeds to Play31, an NYC-based charity that attempts to use football to bring together war-ravaged communities and nations. That’s perhaps an over-simplification of their mission, but it gets the point across. One of their board members is Ishmael Beah, author of A Long Way Gone, which some of you may have read. While obviously interesting in its own right, what’s particularly interesting to me about that is that I went to college with Ishmael and played soccer against him in the intramural league there. He was a genuinely nice guy and even though we were never close (the “hey, what’s up, you playing today?” in the hallways kind of relationship), I always got the sense that he was just damned decent as a person. And for the record, I don’t think I ever lost to him. Take that!
I’ll try to do one post per day about the films I see during the festival and maybe add in a bit about the Q&A sessions and panel discussions that take place throughout the week. I’m very excited for this, but it looks like I need to read some of Simon Kuper’s books because he’ll be there on opening night and I’ve been meaning to read Soccernomics and Soccer Against the Enemy for a while now. I guess that also means I’ll have to listen to some of Adrian Healey’s commentary for when he’s on a panel after El Arbitro. Or maybe I’ll just ask him about Swindown Town’s run at promotion to the Championship (their playoff final is on Saturday against Millwall at Wembley).