Soccer Goes to the Movies at Kicking + Screening in New York

The Kicking + Screening festival will be back to celebrate the beautiful game on the big screen from June 6 until 9, 2017, with four international films including a French entry. The festival’s American founder, Rachel Markus, explains how she managed to combine soccer and cinema.

France-Amérique: How was the Kicking + Screening festival born?

Rachel Markus: I traveled a lot as part of my studies in international politics. Some of the places I visited included Mexico, Yemen, England and Costa Rica, and I realized soccer was a universal language. I later met Greg Lalas while on a trip to New York in 2008. His older brother, Alexi Lalas, played as a defender for the U.S. national soccer team at the 1994 World Cup. I told him about my project, and he loved it! On July 14, 2009, we opened the first edition of the festival with one of my favorite films, the documentary Les Yeux dans les Bleus, about the 1998 French team. The venue was sold out!

How do you combine sport and cinema as part of a festival?

Soccer in cinema is just a theme. Kicking + Screening showcases spectators’ passion for beautiful matches and inspiring human stories, the emergence of young players and the hope they embody, the excitement that makes towns and villages tremble as one in the stands, and the pride of traveling to support a team at the World Cup. I was in Marseille in 1998 when France beat Brazil in the World Cup final. An unforgettable energy flooded through the whole country, united in victory.

How does the Kicking + Screening festival reflect the universality of sport?

The feedback from the first edition in 2009 was so positive that we wanted to take the event on the road. Kicking + Screening traveled to Copenhagen in 2014, then Prague and Abu Dhabi the following year. Presenting films of all nationalities is one of our priorities. This year we have movies from Iceland, Germany, the United States and France.

Can you tell us about the line-up this year?

Les Bleus : Une autre histoire de France is a documentary by French filmmakers David Dietz, Sonia Dauger and Pascal Blanchard, and paints an implicit portrait of France through its national soccer team between 1996 and 2016. “Twenty years of success, division and rekindled hope.” In Michael McNamara’s Celtic Soul, Canadian actor Jay Baruchel explores his Celtic roots in a sporting journey through Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Icelandic documentary maker Sævar Guðmundsson depicts the selection, training and qualification of his national team at the UEFA Euro 2016 in Inside a Volcano: The Rise of Icelandic Football. With its 329,000 citizens, Iceland was the smallest country ever to qualify for the competition. And in the comedy movie The 90-Minute War, Israeli-German director Eyal Halfon organizes a soccer match to settle the war between Israel and Palestine “once and for all!”

Kicking + Screening
From June 6 until 9, 2017
Scandinavia House, New York