Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What We're Watching Now: Soccer Movies

In honor of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, we have been reviewing some of our favorite soccer movies in our collection that deserve recognition. You might notice some common themes among these movies, especially in the ways in which a passion for the game can stretch across gender, political, and territorial barriers.  

Two films in particular - Offside (2006) and Football Under Cover (2008) - make an interesting double feature. The former is a satirical drama following several women who disguise themselves as men in an attempt to watch a live World Cup game in Tehran, where it is illegal for women to attend public sporting events. Directed by acclaimed director Jafar Panahi, sentenced in 2010 by the Iranian government to a 6-year jail term and a 20-year ban from filmmaking because of his work. Panahi refuses to be censored and continues to make movies to be smuggled out of Iran, such as 2011's This Is Not A Film (DVD PERSIAN THIS).


Football Under Cover (2008) is a documentary that follows a German soccer player, Marlene Assman, who decides, after learning that the Iranian Women's National Team has never actually played a match against another international team, to arrange for her German team to travel to Iran to play a truly historic game. The documentary highlights the many restrictions faced by women in Iranian society through the lens of an international soccer match. An Iranian player tries to pass as a man to practice in public without harassment, tensions mount over finding uniforms that conform to dress code, and female spectators speak out against the government's attempts at prohibiting them from merely enjoying a public sporting event because of their gender.

Football Under Cover (DVD PERSIAN FOOTBALL)

The gender politics of soccer are especially poignant to consider during this year's Women's World Cup.  FIFA faced criticism (and a lawsuit from over a dozen high-profile athletes from around the world, which was eventually withdrawn) over allowing the matches to be played on artificial turf, rather than providing the preferred grass fields that the Men's World Cup Tournament has always featured.  

Below are other titles in our collection, recommended if you're looking for soccer-themed tales to watch in between the final matches of the Women's World Cup. Semi-finals begin next week, and the tournament final is Sunday, July 5th at 4pm PST.


The Damned United (DVD DAMNED)

Looking for Eric (DVD LOOKING)

Bend It Like Beckham (DVD BEND)

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