11 great World Cup films from across the globe

Over the years, we've shown a lot of great World Cup-related films at K+S Soccer Film Festivals. With the World Cup kicking off in Russia, we thought we'd share 14 of our favorites.

 Zinedine Zidane, during downtime with France in 1998

Zinedine Zidane, during downtime with France in 1998

Les Yeux dans Les Bleus | Director Stephane Meunier tells the inside story of France's 1998 World Cup triumph, with amazing access and all the drama of a team of superstars, including Zidane, Henry, Deschamps, Desailly, and Djorkaeff. Les Yeux holds a special place in our hearts: It opened our very first festival in 2009.

The Game of Their Lives | Made by longtime K+S friend Daniel Gordon, who also directed the last two World Cup recap films for FIFA, this documentary recounts the story of North Korea's only World Cup appearance, in 1966. Gordon goes to North Korea to find some of the players from the team that charmed British fans and famously upset Italy.

 USSR vs. Poland, Camp Nou, Barcelona, in 1982

USSR vs. Poland, Camp Nou, Barcelona, in 1982

Mundial: The Highest Stakes Winner of the 2013 Golden Whistle, Michal Bielawski's documentary explores the intrigue surrounding the Polish national team at the 1982 World Cup while Poland was under martial law.

90 Minutes: The World Cup of New York City | Perhaps no city experiences the World Cup like New York -- because every nation is represented the Big Apple. This great little film follows fans in NYC as they cheer on their homelands or heritages at the 2010 World Cup.   

The Miracle of Berne | Two intertwined narratives -- one of the German national team competing in Switzerland, one of a stern German man whose son just wants to go see die Mannschaft play at the World Cup -- culminate when Germany face Hungary in the dramatic final in Berne.  

 Jaime Roos with Edison Cavani (l) and Diego Forlan (r), 2010

Jaime Roos with Edison Cavani (l) and Diego Forlan (r), 2010

3 Millones | Famous Uruguayan musician Jaime Roos and his son Yamandu travel to South Africa to support Uruguay at the 2010 World Cup. Along the way, they hang out with Cavani and Forlan, and plenty of hijinks ensue.

Shooting for Socrates | A young boy’s football passion comes alive in tumultuous 1980s Belfast as Northern Ireland prepare to take on Brazil at the 1986 World Cup.

Bosnia in Our Hearts | Finally allowed to compete in international soccer, the Bosnian national team brings the entire diaspora together. In this short doc, young director Sixten Bjorkstrand follows three Bosnians from Finland on their journey to their nation's final 2014 World Cup qualifier in Lithuania.

 The scoreboard after El Salvador's first World Cup match in 1982. 

The scoreboard after El Salvador's first World Cup match in 1982. 

One, The Story of a Goal | In 1982, as El Salvador descended into civil war, the nation's team shockingly qualified for the 1982 World Cup. It didn't go well. Politics and corruption won the day, and team lost 10-1 in their opening match -- to this day the worst defeat in World Cup history. But that World Cup -- that one goal -- still holds great importance and pride for Salvadorans.

The Two Escobars | Not just a great soccer film. A great film. The Zimbalist brothers' story of the Colombian national team at the 1994 World Cup, the team's connections to the infamous drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, and the murder of defender Andres Escobar in the wake of his own goal against the United States is a must for any soccer fan.

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Boniek et Platini | Winner of the 2018 Golden Whistle for short films, Jeremie Laurent's film evokes the politics and emotion of the 1982 World Cup in Spain. Two young boys in Poland recreate the action of their heroes until a pair of police officers confiscate their ball. Their only recourse is to challenge them to a match, with the ball -- and so much more -- at stake.

The 2018 Golden Whistle winners are...

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Since 2011, we have awarded the Golden Whistle to recognize the best soccer films screened at our New York festival, as determined by the K+S film panel. Previous winners include Soka Afrika (2011),  Club Frontera (2016), and Inside a Volcano (2017).

Over our first decade, only feature films were eligible for the Golden Whistle. This year, we have expanded the Golden Whistle program to include the best short film.

Here are this year's winners:

FEATURE FILM: Football for Better or Worsedirected by Inger Molin
SHORT FILM: Boniek et Platinidirected by Jeremie Laurent

The winners were announced on Thursday by our co-founders Rachel and Greg, exclusively on Compass Football.

Congratulations to the films and filmmakers!

Complete list of Golden Whistle Award winners:

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.

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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

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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…