Kicking and Screening Soccer Film Festival is celebrating its tenth anniversary. What all started on a blind date between festival founders, movie insider Rachel Markus and former professional player Greg Lalas has turned into the perfect marriage: soccer and film. And like most marriages, the 2018 Kicking and Screening Soccer Film Festival began with, “For Better or for Worse.” The film…“Football: For Better or for Worse,” that is.
“Football: For Better or for Worse” was the first feature film to open this year’s festivities. Swedish director, Inger Molin, was on hand to introduce her documentary film. She told the audience, “This film is all about the passion for football.”
The inspiration for the film, Molin explained, came three years ago over lunch with an old friend, Klaes Tjebbes. Tejebbes, at that time, had recently left the world of advertising to become the managing director of one the top women’s professional football teams in the world, FC Rosengard.
Trading in advertising pitches for football pitches, we learn, proved difficult. The frustration of things like UEFA only allocating .2% of it’s money to women’s football and the passion to make the sport more equitable, became the spark behind the film.
Klaes is just one of the many humble heroes of this film. He proves an unwavering champion of fairness in football. The audience can feel Klaes’s growing frustration. In the film, Klaes reveals he once became so frustrated, so exasperated in a board meeting that as he stormed out he literally ran into a glass door. Not quite the proverbial glass ceiling, but close enough.
Women’s Soccer Gets The Silver Screen Focus
The film’s backdrop may be FC Rosengard’s financial challenges and the overarching theme may be the unequal treatment of women’s football, but within all this Molin weaves in the individual struggles of the players. There is retired soccer star, Therese Sjogran’s transition from a player running on the pitch to a staffer running the team.
There are players facing injuries, players fighting for a first team spot, players striving to find time for family and friends, Molin does a beautiful job showing the challenges of the beautful game. It’s not about the money. It’s about making women’s professional soccer viable and possible.
As she addressed the front row of future footballers in the audience, the film’s director said the film is about giving young girls something to aspire to—to show them that the dream of being a professional footballer is a real possibility.
As Sjogran says in the film, “Dreaming is free.” Unfortunately, the price of running a professional football club is not and the price of failing to give young girls this goal to aim for is even more dear. Dreaming big and being free to be and who you are and do what you love were running themes of the night. Kicking and Screening showed two intriguing short films: “Equal Playing Field” and “I Love Hooligans,” which both explored these themes in very different, but very powerful ways.
Most dreams occur at night when the stars come out and the stars came out opening night. Former U.S. Women’s National Team captain and two time World Cup winner Christie Pearce spoke on a panel about the the issues facing women’s professional soccer.
The thoughtful panel of experts may not have come up with the answer to the question of how to solve the lack of equality in football, but Barney’s Creative Ambassador and “soccer obsessive” Simon Doonan may have answered another important question. What’s equally as exciting as partnering football and film? How about football and fashion? Take a celebratory dab and grab your trophy, Mr. Doonan, because in my book this is a winner.
It is his forthcoming book, “Soccer Style: The Magic and Madness” that brought Doonan, to the Kicking and Screening Festival. Doonan, who has over 35 years of experience in the fashion industry, came out to talk about his new book, which comes out June 12th— just in time to get you in the mood and to get your outfit ready for the World Cup two days later.
Before the book talk, “Messi & Me” directed by Renny Maslow and “Boniek et Platini” directed by Jeremie Laurent played to a sold out crowd Wednesday night at the Scandinavia house, where the Kicking and Screening Soccer Film Festival is being held. If you have missed any of the festivities don’t fret. Kicking and Screening keeps the cameras rolling the rest of the week with more films and football fun.