K+S Filmmaker Interview: "Two Escobars" directors Zimbalist brothers on their new film "Nossa Chape"

The Zimbalist Brothers, Jeff and Michael, burst onto the soccer-film scene with their 2010 classic, The Two Escobars, which told the tragic story of Colombian footballer Andres Escobar's death in the aftermath of the 1994 World Cup. Eight years later, the brothers are back with Nossa Chape, which follows the Chapecoense community as it recovers from a plane crash that killed 71 people who were traveling to the Copa Sudamericana final. The film, produced by Fox Sports Films, had its world premiere at the 2018 South by Southwest festival. The Zimbalists talked with K+S about making both films, shooting a "soccer" movie, and their next project.

Nossa Chape screens at Kicking + Screening on Thursday, May 24. Get tickets here.

The story of the tragic Chapecoense airplane crash is pretty well known. How did that impact how you told Nossa Chape? What’s the key to making a story the viewer might already know feel fresh and new?
In our first conversations with the remaining members of the club and larger Chapecoense community only weeks after the crash, we explained how our intentions and our approach were different from the news media’s approach. We’ve both spent a big part of our lives in Colombia and Brazil, and as documentary filmmakers, we’ve always been drawn to stories in the world of sports that extend far beyond the game and into larger social and cultural themes.

In this case, we found it was the story of how a family or community responds to collective loss. And in particular, the questions of: “How do we best move forward?” “Is it by remembering and honoring the dead and keeping their memory alive at every chance we can, or by pushing forward with our own lives?” “And what would the deceased have wanted of us?”

The team agreed to work with us and give us unfettered access to all elements of the club and community. A big part of that came from understanding that we weren’t there for a quick news story, that we were going to be much more involved and tell a more complete story. There was also a sense that this could be a meaningful way to honor the dead by telling their story and the story of rebuilding the community.

As the filming and story evolved, we saw the larger Chapecoense family split into two groups, as well as those who were torn between them, like the three surviving players. In the end, we were as surprised as everyone to find, essentially, both camps agreeing that perhaps neither was right, and that the best approach was to stay unified, which ultimately was the value that was most important to those who died.

This was the narrative that really resonated with us and that felt universal in the sense that we all at some point face this question of how do we best grieve the loss of a loved one. And how do we do that in concert as a family.


Were there any lessons you learned from making The Two Escobars that you could apply to Nossa Chape?
It's hard to divorce the learning experience of a previous film from any subsequent film, and The Two Escobars was certainly an influence on our approach to Nossa Chape. From the onset, we were interested in telling the story of the whole Chapecoense family, and that meant filming over time with many subjects—from the three survivors, to the other players from 2016 and new players from 2017, to the coach and administration, but also the larger family that included all the fans and Mayor and really the whole city.

Is there anything different about making a “soccer” film than another type of film?
As mentioned above, we’ve always been drawn to stories in the world of sports that extend into larger social and cultural themes. So we’ve never really thought of the films we’ve made as sports films. That said, sports are fascinating mirror of society and we do appreciate the built in stakes and structure that come with sports, where the audience can experience all of the emotional swells and big action of a classic sports narrative... but at the same time, identify with the human story at the core.

One of your next projects is Phenoms. What can you say about that series?
Phenoms is a multi-platform docu-series that we are producing and directing with Fox that follows young footballers from around the world in the lead up to the 2018 World Cup. We filmed with tens of players, all with hopes of making the World Cup team for their countries.

The World Cup is coming up. Who ya got?
There will always be a special place in our hearts for the Colombian national team, as well as of course Brazil. We’re looking forward to seeing some of the young footballers we filmed with for Phenoms playing in Russia!

K+S Author Interview: Simon Doonan on Newcastle's jerseys and WAGS at the World Cup

Bon vivant and Barneys creative ambassador-at-large Simon Doonan knows him some fashion. He also knows him some soccer. This summer, his two passions come together in his latest book, SOCCER STYLE: The Magic and Madness

The cultural man about town chatted with Kicking + Screening about the best uniforms, the cult of uniformity, and and why bad taste is actually good.

Doonan talks soccer style, along with Shawn Francis, Lucas Shanks, and Calen Carr, on Wednesday, May 23. Get your tickets here.

 Photo: Joe Gaffney

Photo: Joe Gaffney

K+S: Let’s get right to it: What’s your all-time favorite football jersey from a style perspective? Why?

Doonan: I am an Op-Art freak so I have to go with Newcastle, which means I also dig Juventus. Those black and white vertical stripes are a visual delight. From the players point of view these shirts are primo. They make every guy on the field look heroic and fierce. #flattering


I am also a fan of demented car-crash over-the-top shirts. I cheered when Norwich had their "egg and cress” moment. I loved the Arsenal “bruised banana” shirt in the 90’s. Not every shirt needs to be tasteful. As Diana Vreeland said, “Bad taste is a good thing. It’s like a nice splash of paprika."

K+S: Why do European footballers look so damn stylish all the time?

Doonan: European lads see vanity as a life-affirming thing, and they have a much easier relationship with designer clothing. The Brits still worry that spending too much time in Gucci is going to compromise their masculinity and cause their willies to fall off.

K+S: What’s your favorite football film? Why?


Doonan: I love an indie doc, but the mega documentary about Cristiano Ronaldo was revealing and quite melancholy. It offered a haunting glimpse into the psyche of a dude who is globally recognized but strangely unknowable.

K+S: The World Cup is coming up this summer. You ya got?

Doonan: A few months back Gareth Southgate announced that the WAGS would be welcome in Russia. They have been absent since the crazy days in Baden Baden back in 2006, when they generated hilarious press and major distraction. I am ready for a good WAG moment. It would take the edge off the anxious Russia situation… or maybe add to it.

K+S Filmmaker Interview: "Boniek et Platini" director Jeremie Laurent on the "insane part of football"

In the short film Boniek et Platini, two young Polish boys use soccer to take on the cops and battle martial law in the backdrop of the 1982 World Cup.

Director Jeremie Laurent chatted with Kicking + Screening about making the film, the difficulty of creating a "football" movie, and why France might win the World Cup.

Boniek et Platini screens at Kicking + Screening on Wednesday, May 23. Get tickets here.

 K+S: What was the inspiration for making Boniek et Platini?

As a huge fan of football and history, I wanted to bring together both in order to show the football (and the sport in general) as a way to resist in world in conflict. Nowadays, football is synonym of big money: Who’s going to be the next most expensive player of the world? The spirit is slightly disappearing, and I think it is really important to react with this insane part of football.


K+S: What’s the most difficult part of making a “football" movie? Would you even consider Boniek et Platini a football movie?

I think Boniek et Platini can be considered as a football movie, yes, particularly for the French/Polish audience. This 82' World Cup in Spain was epic for both countries.

The most difficult part is how to show the sport? Where do I put my camera? Inside or outside the field? I watched a lot of football movies and every time the camera was inside, with the players. It immediately disturbed me.

I think we are conditioned to watch football with the multicam sports productions aesthetic: one master shot and different close up shots with long-focus lens. As soon as we are inside the field, it becomes unrealistic. That’s why I decided to shoot the game using the same shots of multicam; to stay outside, not enter the camera in the field and perturb the players.


K+S: The World Cup is this summer. Who ya got?

The French team has great young players. Many of them play in great clubs. We have a good chance to reach the semifinals probably. But the team lacks a leader, so…

K+S Filmmaker Interview: How a night of beers led to a Latin American soccer adventure

In American Fútbol, four friends travel through Latin America on their way to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The group covers more than 7,000 miles, meeting people along the way and finding the heart of soccer in the Americas.

Kicking + Screening talked with directors Peter Karl and Petar Madjarac about the film.

The world premiere of American Fútbol is at Kicking + Screening on Friday, May 25. Get tickets here.

K+S: What was the inspiration for American Fútbol? It feels like the kind of thing that four friends all over the world discuss doing over beers but never actually make it happen.

It pretty much happened just like that, a conversation over beers that led to an adventure of a lifetime. We've all been friends for a long time (all went to college together), and after the 2010 World Cup, our friend Sam (featured in the doc) threw out the idea of doing a road trip through Latin America on the way to the World Cup in Brazil. We thought it was a crazy idea, but as beers kept flowing, it became a better and better idea. We realized with the two following World Cups being in Russia and Qatar, this was really our only chance to do something like this. The next day, we started in earnest in preparing for the trip, and countless video chats later, and we were ready to go.

K+S: American Fútbol has a lot of familiar themes in documentaries: road trip, buddy movie, football. How did you make it feel like it was it’s own unique film?

We wanted our film to be as authentic as possible. So the approach from the beginning was to immerse ourselves in the countries we visited, and let the subjects tell their own stories. Since we jumped around to so many different places, we felt it was important for us as characters to be the connective tissue between the stories. But we never wanted to be the focus. We knew the people we'd meet and the stories they'd share would be much more interesting. That allowed us to focus on connecting with these people, and being alongside them for the ride gave us a unique perspective into their world.

The interesting thing we discovered was that so many of these stories had a similar thread of humanity within them. Soccer was just the thing that brought those common human elements out of each one.

K+S: How did you pick where you went? Did you have a story in mind as you went along or did you let the people you met and the stories you found guide you?


Our goal was to go to all the Latin American countries that qualified for the World Cup in Brazil. Unfortunately, the only one we didn't make it to was Honduras. But including the U.S., there were 10 countries from the greater American continent competing in Brazil. This was really Latin America's World Cup, so we thought it was the perfect chance for us, as Americans, to listen and learn from people who have the greatest direct impact on the growth of soccer culture in the U.S. So in each place we looked for stories that we felt related to us as Americans, and an American audience. 

Some stories like David Patey, the American owner of C.S. Herediano in Costa Rica, we pre-produced and planned out ahead of time. Other stories like the blind soccer team in Colombia, we discovered on our trip. We wanted to be as prepared as possible going into the trip, while still allowing for things to happen naturally along the way.

K+S: What’s a favorite story or scene that didn’t make it into the final cut of the film?


In Ecuador, our story explores how their national team broke down racial, regional, and economic barriers in a country as diverse as the continent of South America itself. We share the story from the point of Ulises de la Cruz, one of Ecuador's most famous players, who lifted himself out of poverty to play in two World Cups and now represents his home region in the National Congress. When we visited his village, we profiled a 15-year-old man-child named Michael Chala who hoped to follow Ulises's footsteps and use his football talents to lift his own family out of poverty. We kept footage of him in the film, but we had to cut his storyline and interviews with him and his mom out of the film for timing and pacing reasons. They were emotional interviews too (and Michael said he wanted to play in the U.S.!), but ultimately couldn't fit in. Regardless, we think the major themes in that section still come through pretty well.

K+S: The next World Cup is this summer. Who ya got?

Petar: It's hard not to pick Germany again. Their roster is so deep with experience and youth at all positions, but I have a feeling that Brazil will find a way to learn from their mistakes in 2014 and lift the World Cup trophy in Russia. My dark horse is Serbia. They always have a talented roster but never seem to find a way to play together as a team. This year will be different! (Being from Serbia may give me a slight bias here).

Pete: I agree, you're silly not to say Germany. But I'm also hopeful that the World Cup trophy can return to South America. The storybook final has to be Brazil-Germany and I'd hope Brazil gets their redemption. Also, don't sleep on Spain. They're so skilled, have a good mix of veterans and hungry young guys, and they're group is pretty weak. If they catch fire, they'll be hard to beat.

K+S Filmmaker Interview: Inger Molin's strong message about women footballers

Football, for Better or Worse follows FC Rosengård, one of the best women's teams in the world. Led by new sporting director Therese Sjögran and Brazilian star Marta, the club fights every day to lift the women’s game. Can they win?

Director Inger Molin discussed with Kicking + Screening the making of the film, the plight of women's soccer around the globe, and Marta's exceptional singing ability.

Football, for Better or Worse screens on Tuesday, May 22 at Kicking + Screening. Get your tickets here.

K+S: How did you first come to the story of FC Rosengård and what appealed to you about telling it in a documentary?


I had lunch with the CEO of FC Rosengård, Klas Tjebbes, in January 2015. He had the year before left his job at an advertising agency after 25 years in the business. He always had his heart in football and felt confident that he could join the club and make a difference, using his PR skills to handle the tricky financial situation. After five months of hard work he realized that it was much more complex and harder than he had expected. He was tired. And he was angry, so upset about UEFA’s way of financially handling the Women Champions League. Their monetary contribution to the women teams didn’t at all even cover travel and hotel costs. In order for FC Rosengård to be able to attend the tournament, they needed to get financial support from the city of Malmö. UEFA gave 0.2 percent of the money to women teams, and 99.8% to the men. Outrageous...

When I told this story to a director of photography colleague of mine, Bill Watts, who works a lot with documentaries, he instantly felt that this is a story that we should tell. And with one of the best women players ever in the team, Marta, we could get attention to the important financial and gender structure issue.

K+S: What was your goal in making Football, for Better or Worse? Do you think it has had a positive effect on women’s football in Sweden? Around the world?


My goal was to get the message out, without portraying women footballers as victims. I wanted to show strong, passionate, and professional football players being treated unfair by just telling the fact of the weird distribution of money.

Young girls should have the same possibilities as young boys to choose the profession of being a football player. This wasn’t a possibility just 10 years ago, but now it is. And this is great. Things are changing for the better. Slowly.

The film was shown at national TV in Sweden during spring 2017, and available on their online Play - more than 130,000 viewers. At the same time, there was a public discussion going on regarding women football and economics. I hope our film contributed.

In making the film, I think the players felt they got seen, feeling that their story is important. Since the film got finalized, many players have left FC Rosengård, starting playing in other European clubs. In this way you could say that the ”spirit” of the film has spread internationally, the players are the best ambassadors. And when the film is being shown at sport film festivals, the message is also spread. This was my big goal with this project.

K+S: Football, for Better or Worse has a pretty specific point of view. Did you have that idea and those opinions when you started filming or did you come to them as you spent more time with the team?

The process started with anger, frustration about the unfairness of money within football. This feeling was confirmed during the production. But during the journey this feeling was mixed with the great passion for football the girls have. It got so clear to me, that there is no difference between woman and men footballers regarding this. And the inequality is not specific for football, it reflects the structure in society.

When screening the film for the first time at a big theater in Malmö, with many young girls footballers in the audience, it was a great feeling when they all looked so proud afterwards. This was a film with their role models, a film about them. And when a 20-year-old guy asked me if it was possible to get a poster of the film, the cool pic of Therese Sjögran, I really felt we had succeeded!

K+S: What’s the best story about Marta that didn’t make it into the film?

Marta is very dedicated in making a difference for women football. So she was definitely okay with us hanging around the pitch, following the team with our camera. But she is a very humble and shy person in public, and it was clear to us that she didn’t want to stand out from the team as some kind of superstar. I would say that all the things we got with Marta got into to final edit. My only disappointment was that we couldn’t use her singing when she played in the hotel lobby after the loss in the CL quarter final in Frankfurt. Marta has a good voice and she played a song of the Brazilian group Tribalistas. Due to rights issues, we had to make an alternative creative sound edit. Because I definitely wanted the scene in the film, since it was very emotional, coming close to Marta.

K+S: The World Cup is coming up this summer. Who ya got?

Haha… you mean the World Cup NEXT summer? There is a journalist in Sweden that calls our women's national team the "Real National team," the team that wins games! ;)

Seriously, I am not that into men's football but of course Brazil is always close to heart. And the small nation of Iceland is always a thrill to watch, speaking of strong team spirit.

The manager of the Swedish national team, Janne Andersson, is an old friend of mine and of course I wish him and our Swedish team all the best of luck. However, I am not sure that we will go all the way…! ;)