BFB at the Box Office: Love, Football, and Life

There’s something about football that speaks to me on a level that most other things can’t. Or don’t want to. Or just haven’t even considered trying to do. First, it is a sport that I play, that breaths life into me when I take the field. Running for a ball isn’t so much as running, working, exercising as it is being a part of a larger pageant. Those who aren’t football fans will cry excessive use of force with that description, but those who are fans will agree.

On this, the 4th night of the Kicking and Screening film festival, we watched Eine Andere Liga (2005, dir: Buket Alakus), a German movie about a Turkish-German girl, Hayat (Karoline Herfurth), who is diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age and gets a mastectomy. Besides the obvious traumas involved in losing a part of yourself and battling a ferocious disease, Hayat struggles with going through the final stages of puberty and discovering men. The background to all of this is Hayat’s love of football and her desire to continue playing despite being weakened by her medication and surgery. It is a fairly straightforward and formulaic story in many respects, but the way it was handled, especially by the fantastic Karoline Herfurth, left me feeling closer to both football as a uniter and outlet because it is the human undercurrent in every game, the daily struggles by every player, from the best players in the world down to lowly old me and my crappy pickup games, that makes our game as wonderful and beautiful as it is.

Whenever we are faced with dilemmas, with life-altering situations, we automatically wish everything could be as it had been and that is a major part of this film, whose main characters–Hayat and her father (Thierry van Werveke)–are in the throws of changes that place them squarely at odds with what they’ve always wanted in life. For Hayat it’s to play football, for her father, it’s to be reunited with his deceased wife. Life plays itself out on the pitch through romance, fun, and the redemptive process of finding yourself when you thought nothing could ever be right again, but as always, it’s off-the-field issues that end up being what’s most important.

Film Grade: 9/10. It’s a wonderful film and well worth your time despite some of its formulaic drawbacks. You see the end coming, but it’s an ending you’re rooting for the whole time, especially in the terrifying, heart-wrenching, and amazingly acted sex scene. This is life and this is football and dammit it’s good to know that it’s possible to be saved by an inflated sheep’s bladder being kicked around a grassy field.

The panel discussion before the movie included Yael Averbuch of the USWMNT and WPS’s SKy Blue FC and Ethan Zohn, founder of Grassroots Soccer (and you might know him from Survivor: Africa too). They talked about how soccer is beautiful and meaningful on a variety of levels and Yael said she refers to the game as her “beautiful release” (a line she stole from Sarah McLachlan, apparently) because it gets her away from anything that is bothering her. That is a sentiment I can get behind because if you’ve ever closed your eyes on a field and let the feeling of playing take you for a moment, you can be anywhere but here and now and when you do come back to the present, to the problems, you’re lighter, happier, better able to handle it. And that, I think, is what Eine Andere Liga is all about and what, in the end, the entirety of football is about.

With that I take my leave of Kicking and Screening (other parts here, here, here, and here), though there’s still one day left that I will not be able to attend. Tomorrow night’s offering is The Game of Their Lives (about the North Korean national team) and a short called Africa 10 as well as a panel involving The Game of their Lives director Daniel Gordon. It’s been a fantastic time and I’d like to thank Rachel, Greg, Annie, and the rest of the K&S crew for allowing me to be a part of this wonderful experience. They were gracious, open, and down-to-earth hosts who were willing to go the extra mile to make it a good time for everyone. So thanks again to them and I hope to see some of you at next year’s K&S Festival. You know you want to be there to meet me, after all.

Check out their charities, too, while you’re at it: Play31 and COPA NYC. I’ll try to make it to some of COPA’s matches in late July and will update you here on that in case you’re around. And now return to your regularly scheduled broadcasting of mind-numbing transfer rumors…

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and daughter.

45 Comments

      • ballbeav
        June 5, 2010

        thanks for the reviews isaiah. i watched el arbitro on youtube last night but only understood half of it, damn they speak fast. i wish it had spanish subtitles all the way through. still a good flick.

  1. Wow your guys comments are full of insight. Good read Isaiah, I cant wait till next year I would love to go to a football film festival, that is, if it is an annual occasion.

  2. Hey guys I am a member of World football Daily, and sometimes, although entertaining, they do not know what they are talking about when it comes to our boys, so I sent them the following email lol.

    ***Hey boys, I am a subscriber, and I just want to say that Arseblogger is full of shit in my opinion and the biggest homer I have ever heard. In an entire 20 min interview about Cesc and Barcelona he totally took the English teams side, making Barcelona seem like a classless side. I would love to refute the vile that this guy spews!!! I have some interesting thoughts about the Cesc situation myself, a Barcelona fan.

    1) Most of us Barcelona fans do not want Cesc this year, for €35 million, or any price. The reason for this is because there is no way he would start, he cannot begin to compare with a healthy Iniesta or Xavi when it comes to (tiki-taka) football. What we want it to plant the seed this year, just as Madrid did with Ronaldo and Man U a few years back. Then in 2-3 years, maybe even next year, we can bring him in to play in the Kieta role, a box to box mid that starts Copa games, as well as when Xavi or Iniesta are injured, suspended or simply need a rest. We could also play him against much weaker sides in the holding mid role, seeing as we wont have Yaya Toure much longer.

    2) This is an ELECTION year, and that is the only reason Cesc’s name is even being mentioned. Laporta wants to bring the prodigal son home, but not have to suffer the fiscal fallout that may come from it, although I believe his entire transfer fee would be made up in jersey sales alone. The front runner for our election, which takes place next week is Sandro Rosell, a man that used be Laporta’s number one guy, but had a bitter falling out during the 03/04 season and resigned from the board. He came out last week and said that signing Cesc would be easy to sign, clearly a move to incense Arsenal and make any possible transfer near impossible for Laporta to get done before the WC. Rosell is a bad guy and most socio’s (Barcelona members) abroad dislike him, that is why he was against internet voting in next weeks election. In fact, last week he said (paraphrase) ‘it’s not a good idea to bring African youth players to Barcelona because they lie about their age and because they take the places of the local youth players, who he calls ‘our boys’, clearly a racist and hurtful statement. I really wonder what Yaya Toure and Seydo Kieta think about that quote, as they are both African. Many Barca fans see this as a stupid comment that pretty much shows how near sighted Rosell is, in essence he has cut us off from Africa, a continent that produces tremendous players.

    3) Yaya Toure is going to Man City, not Arsenal. He will not be used as a make weight for Cesc in any deal. The only player Arsenal wants, that could be included in a deal would be Chygrynskiy.

    4) Look for Barcelona to be in the market for a Defensive mid (many people see Sissoko as the next Yaya Toure in our system), a backup right back (possibly Van der Wiel), some depth at the attacking mid (Gourcuff is a popular choice), and god forbid, if we do let Ibra go, a left winger (Robben, Luis Suarez, Juan Mata and Jesus Nevas all top the list).

    I know that this has been a really long email, and I doubt you will be able to dedicat the time necessary to get to it on the air, but I just wanted to clear up some of the misconceptions going around about my beloved team, la blaugrana!!!!!******

    I know I dont speak for everyone but I thought I summed it up OK: )

    • Jnice
      June 5, 2010

      I never listen when he is on the show. The misinformation spewed about is ridiculous, as well as is hate for Barça.

    • Kari
      June 5, 2010

      I have one issue with your email: you didn’t include David Silva in your left winger options! Grr! 😀

      Other than that, you summed it out well. Nice!

    • Vj
      June 5, 2010

      There is a pretty big reason why he’s called Arseblogger.. him, like most of the ‘goon’ers found on the net can’t stop talking out of their ‘arse’.. I wonder why? 😛

  3. Something I found on another site, another reason not to vote for Rosell.

    One to consider???? a quote from Jordi Cardoner speaking on RAC1

    “We think that the idea of unlimited growth promoted by the board was socially not correct. It would have been terrible if we today would have had 750.000 or 1.000.000 club members as was mentioned back then. We think that we should put a stop to the growth so that the current members really could enjoy the benefits of being a member.

    What we will do is announce a period of three months during which everyone who isn’t yet a member can make the decision of becoming it. After that period, only two groups could become a member: family members in the first of second degree of a member or children who would be given the chance to grow up with the club.”

    How does that impact on a few people on here who may have been fans for a number of years, been to games but never got round to getting soci status?

    Previously Sandro has talked about “regulating” the membership…..

    “We have already 3.000-4.000 Japanese club members, which is good but one day we could have 50.000. Or 50.000 Chinese or 50.000 Russians, it’s the same. And those 50.000 Russians could one day decide that the president of Barça would be a Russian”

    Is the issue here a threat to the democracy of the club?

    This seals the deal for me, I don’t want the guy to be our president, he wants to close off membership in fear of ‘others’ being the majority??????????? GOD FORBID!!!!!

  4. poipoi
    June 5, 2010

    this stuff really interests me as a huge cule, and I repeat huge cule.

    I think that in the that last years the image of FCB is suffering very very much, not the team and the footy of course (we are as good as we have ever been even though we threw last CL away WE KNOW IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN OURS). It’s the club image the politics and the aficionados what bothers me. We are supposed to be a football club not a political or ratial club, iniesta or messi are the biggest proof.

    I want to talk about the slogans also, I hate them. All that stuff with “en hi deixarem la pell” “tot guayat, tot per guanyar” “no pensis en la temporada pensa en la historia” “la remuntada” and all that I tell you it makes me sick, I thought only EE did that kind of stuff. Besides, those mind cotrolling slogans are only written in catalan, more politics. I really dislike this stuff, it’s getting ugly, let the crowd speak for themselves, not nike.

    the slogans mean: 1- “we will give it all” … 2- “everything won, everything to be won” … 3- “don’t think about the season think about history” — this is the ugliest and most disrespectful one btw … 4- “the comeback” “the mending” or something.

    last… on Jaume Ferrer’s campaign, Laporta’s friend they sing a song in catalan with the “black eyed peas” melody, and saying “I’m happy because we I’m cule” aaarggh 🙁 can’t EE supporters be happy if they want or something? even morale now???? wtf?

    • ballbeav
      June 5, 2010

      “..and I repeat huge cule”

      what, do you weigh 300 lbs or something?

      i agree on the slogans and imaging, the faux tats and the tough-guy shit. i wish all that would just go away.

      • poipoi
        June 5, 2010

        long time barcelonista lol , ’cause the comment could sound antibarça or something… just so new readers don’t start it with me 😀

  5. Kari
    June 5, 2010

    Right, so getting back to the movie review (poor Isaiah; he just HAD to go the Kicking $ Screening film fest during the elections and WC year…) that movie seems like a majorly intense film.

    Thanks for this reviews, Isaiah. They’re really well done. Keep it up!

  6. ballbeav
    June 5, 2010

    what time does the B team play their qualification match today?

  7. DontPanic
    June 5, 2010

    Barca Atletic vs Real Jaén
    *http://www.radiotelevisionandalucia.es/tvcarta/html/nav/com/css/cssimg/video2.swf?video=http://andaluciatelevision.rtva.stream.flumotion.com/rtva/andaluciatelevision.flv.m3u

    • Reagan
      June 5, 2010

      Thanks for the link mate.. Who’s the #9???? He brilliant!!!

      • DontPanic
        June 5, 2010

        Thats Nolito. Thiago just scored from a free kick. Atletic leads 1-0.

        • Reagan
          June 5, 2010

          Why haven’t we heard of him before? Wow! this side is amazing! the way they play is so like the senior team!

  8. DontPanic
    June 5, 2010

    First half over. Barca deservedly lead 1-0. Jaen were very dangerous after they conceded a goal, so Barca will have to score another one, just to be on the safe side. Thiago was the best player so far with LW Nolito after him. JDS is in the stands.

  9. DontPanic
    June 5, 2010

    Jonathan Soriano scores in 58th minute. Barca lead 2-0. Segunda baby

  10. DontPanic
    June 5, 2010

    Soriano scores another one. 3-0. Thiago asists

  11. Jnice
    June 5, 2010

    Segunda!

    So happy for those boys and Luis Enrique. He’s gonna be scooped up by a first division club soon.

        • poipoi
          June 5, 2010

          ” teams go up and the rest of the games were:

          Sant Andreu/Universidad de Las Palmas —- Eibar/Ontinyent —- Alcorcón/Pontevedra

          One of the winners be our last draw. The thing is that Sant Andreu Barcelona and Ontinyent come from the same group (group 3). If only two of them make it to the last draw they cant face each other, if all 3 make it to the last draw 2 will have to face each other no matter what. POR COJONES, “by the balls” 😀

          A-L-C-O-R-C-Ó-N omg!! lmfao!! can you imagine????

  12. Ramzi
    June 5, 2010

    As for Sandro, I made my NONONO scream long time ago. I am glad he started to reveal his thoughts now rather than counting on the hype that serves him.

    Regarding members issue and all the Catalan Vs “the others” concerns, I wrote my thoughts on Total Barca last week, about the need to decide what kind of clubs Barcelona need to be:

    * http://www.totalbarca.com/2010/opinion-pieces/ramzis-rambles-the-moment-of-truth/

    Marc Ingla heads my wish list that contains only one name so far.

  13. ballbeav
    June 5, 2010

    im confused, i thought that beating Jaen meant Barca Atletic went to Segunda, but now it seems i am reading that they still need to beat one more team, can anyone clear this up for me?

    • Vj
      June 5, 2010

      The whole qualification process:

      16 teams including 4 winners of each division qualify for the playoffs. The 4 winners play each other, 2 winners are directly promoted, while the rest of the 12 teams play each other so that 6 teams advance. The two losers added with the 6 teams who have advanced play two more rounds and so finally, 2 more teams are promoted..

      • Ciaran
        June 5, 2010

        so does that mean we still have to play someone or are we promoted?

        • Jnice
          June 5, 2010

          There’s one more round (2 legs). Win that and we are promoted.

  14. CLUEless(John)
    June 5, 2010

    Right, this is super confusing, I just want us to be promoted. Our youth team should be playing the best!!!

  15. Tajh
    June 5, 2010

    hey guys do any of you have a video of all Pedro’s goal this season?? Much Appreciated to those who respond.

    • Jnice
      June 5, 2010

      You don’t remember that? I think Messi had been unhappy all game. He wouldn’t be mad at Thiago for not celebrating with him.

      • vicsoc8
        June 5, 2010

        I tend to have a short memory on things like that (aka I block them out, I can remember all the good moments, but remain blissfully forgetful of bad moments).

        Glad you remember Messi woke up on the wrong side of the bed that day.

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