A Spanish-language version of this article was published in MLSsoccer.com
Lovers of soccer and films will have the opportunity to combine both passions thanks to the Kicking + Screening festival that will take place between June 27 and 30 at the Tribeca Cinemas in Manhattan.
In its fourth edition, the festival will showcase diverse documentaries on the world’s most popular sport. According to its website, the main objective of the festival is “to engage, connect, and inspire soccer and film enthusiasts through the celebration and presentation of soccer/football culture.”
“This game is the world’s game, as they say, which means there are millions of ways that people describe it, define it, render it, portray it, use it, abuse it, love it, and hate it,” said Greg Lalas, co-founder of the festival, retired soccer player and editor-in-chief of MLSsoccer.com.
“It has meanings that go well beyond 22 players and a patch of grass. It has deep social and religious implications, heavy cultural symbolism, and for players and fans, a massive role in self-identity. And what medium captures the perception of reality better than film.”
The festival will begin Wednesday 27 at 7:30 pm with the global première of “Gringos at the Gate;” a documentary about the rivalry between the national soccer teams of Mexico and the United States. The competition between these two neighboring teams will be explored from the sports and social point of view.
Maintaining the theme of “enemies forever;” Kicking + Screening will also show that same night “El Clásico: More than a Game;” a film that investigates the history, culture, passion and identity surrounding the rivalry between the Spanish clubs FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.
With presence in other cities such as London, Amsterdam, Houston and Washington, the organizers of Kicking + Screening estimate that more than five thousand people have attended to the different versions of the festival worldwide. Prior presentations include short films that travel the world of soccer from Argentina, South Africa, Italy, Portugal, Germany and North Korea.
This year, the event will also include the presence of directors and special invitees such as Jimmy Burns, author of the book “La Roja” about the national soccer team of Spain. Also, on the night of Friday 29, there will be a quiz contest in which fans can test their football knowledge.
Referring to the reputation of soccer in the U.S, Lalas said: “Festivals like this both help grow the popularity — another reason my partner Rachel and I started it in the first place — but its success is a testament that the game’s popularity is already very strong. There are millions and millions of football fans here in the US. Think about this: About 25 million people in the USA watched the 2010 World Cup final here — that’s roughly four times the number of people who live in Holland, who were in the final.”
With such a diversity of documentaries showcased this year, Kicking + Screening tries to show soccer’s different facets. Topics such as the individual spirit, the secret of success or politics and soccer are explored in other films, among which we can mention: “1:1 Thierry Henry”, “The Four Year Plan” y “The Last Proletarians of Football.”
The only films that is in Spanish and Catalan language is “L’equip Petit,” which narrates the story of Catalan team that has never won a match or scored a goal, still, they show up to play every week. “And if the players’ passion doesn’t define soccer, I don’t know what does.” Lalas concluded.
All the films will be shown at the Tribeca Cinemas on 54 Varick Street, New York, NY, 10013.