Best ever: „Maradona by Kusturica” (Spain, 2008) and „Fimpen” (Sweden, 1973) won at „11mm” Soccer Film Festival in Berlin

In Germany we say: „Fußball ist die schönste Nebensache der Welt“ (an English translation could be: „Football is the nicest minor matter in the world”). Others are sometimes more radical – like the Scottish ex-player Bill Shankly: Is football a matter of life and death? „I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”

For sure is that soccer has I side, which is no laughing matter – and sometimes it could be a matter of life and death, for professionals as well. Five „rebel” players in really critical situations you could see (presented by „bad boy” ex-footballer Eric Cantona) in the new French production „Les rebelles du foot” (directed by Gilles Perez & Gilles Rof) at „11mm" Soccer Film Festival in Berlin (Didier Drogba in war suffering Ivory Coast 2004; Chilean Carlos Caszely after the military coup 1973; Algerian Rachid Mekhloufi who left France 1958 to play for the FLN, the „Front de Libération Nationale”; Yugoslavian Predrag Pasic defending multi-ethnical life in Sarajevo in the 1990s during the siege of the city; and, of course, Brazilian „Doutor” Sócrates fighting 1980 for democracy at the end of the military dictatorship).

But on the other hand football brings joy and happiness to the people, sometimes national integration and it forms often local identities.

One player, who unifies both sides of football – the happy and the dark one –, is without doubt Diego Armando Maradona (The German Soccer Magazine „11 Freunde” called him currently „The middle finger of god”...). The beloved Argentine legend almost paid for the success with life´ cause of his cocaine addiction. Now the documentary „Maradona par Kusturica” (Spain, 2008) won at „11mm" the trophy for the best football documentary of all time. Congratulations! Famous Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica followed Maradona two years and shows us the complex personality of one of the best footballers of modern times.

A bigger surprise may be the winner of the best football fiction movie ever: „Fimpen” (Sweden, 1973), directed by Bo Widerberg. The film tells the story of six-year-old Johan, nicknamed „Fimpen”, an extraordinary talented football player. He is discovered and recruited to Hammarby IF and the Swedish national team. Performing in the 1974 World Cup qualification, he is promoted to idol status but finds it more and more difficult in daily life. „Fimpen” is a lovely, pleasurable youth film – and a worthy winner.

And the audience award „Golden 11” of „11mm" 2013 has given to „The Lost Worldcup" (Italy/Argentina, 2011, see the critic to the funny Mockumentary-style film on my blog).

More winners and information: www.11-mm.de

Best football films of all time

Shortlist documentaries:

Les yeux dans les Bleus (France, 1998)
Documentary that follows the French national team closely on their way to the 1998 World Cup title. It seems that the French footballers are forgetting someday that cameras are observing them.

The Game of their Lives (Great Britain, 2002)
The film details the true story of the 1950 US soccer team which, against all odds, beat England 1-0 in the city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil during the World Cup.

The Other Final (Netherlands, 2003)
About a football match between Bhutan and Montserrat, the then-lowest ranked teams in the FIFA World Rankings in 2002. The game was played on the morning of the World Cup Final.

Once in a Lifetime (USA, 2006)
Tells the remarkable story of the New York Cosmos and how the likes of Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto and Giorgio Chinaglia were briefly united by one man's dream.

Maradona par Kusturica (Spain, 2008)
Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica meets Argentine legend Diego Maradona. It ends, when the former football star being in good health, and has no more addiction to drugs.

Football under Cover (Germany, 2008)
The film follows the attempts of a German and a Iranian woman to organize a football match in 2006 in Teheran between a team from Berlin and the Iranian national woman's team.

Hana, dul, sed ... (Austria, 2009)
The documentary accompany four young women players of the surprisingly  good North Korean national team on and off the football ground.

The Two Escobars (Columbia/USA, 2010)
Two Escobars uplifted the Colombian soccer team from obscurity. Andrés Escobar as team captain. Pablo Escobar as the drug lord in the shadows. They shared a name and a violent fate.

The Other Chelsea (Germany, 2010)
Ukrainian Billionaire Akhmetov invests heavily and successfully  in the club Shakhtar Donetsk. Off the pitch, the outlook in the coal-mining area of Ukraine appears bleak.

Tom meets Zizou (Germany, 2011)
The film follows young footballer Thomas Broich through the trials and tribulations of his career. Broich is talented, but don´t like the business´ pressure and escapes to Australian club Brisbane Roar.

Shortlist movies:

Fimpen (Sweden, 1973)
Six-year-old Johan, nicknamed „Fimpen”, is an extraordinary talented football player. He is promoted to idol status but finds it difficult to keep up in school.

Fever Pitch (Great Britain, 1996)
Movie version of Nick Hornby´s book: Teacher Paul Ashworth, a fan of London´s club Arsenal, is realizing that football is not everything when he falls in love.

Mike Bassett: England Manager (Great Britain, 2001)
Satirical comedy which follows the fortunes of the manager of club Norwich City, Mike Bassett, who is appointed England manager one day.

The Miracle of Bern (Germany, 2003)
Film that tells the story of a young boy and the unexpected West German (miracle) victory in the 1954 World Cup Final in Bern, Switzerland.

El Camino de San Diego (Argentina, 2006)
Argentine lumberjack who's been laid off at work and obsessed with Diego Maradona wants to deliver an healthy piece of wood to his hero after he heard that he has heart problems

The Year My Parents Went on Vacation (Brazil, 2006)
Story of Mauro, a 12-year-old boy from São Paulo, and his experiences with the harsh military government, when  the country was  bursting with enthusiasm for the coming World Cup of 1970.

The Damned United (Great Britain, 2009)
BBC drama about idealistic football manager Brian Clough who gets the job at Leeds United, a club which he has criticized fiercely before for his violent and physical style of play.

Looking for Eric (Great Britain/France, 2009)
About a football fanatic postman whose life is descending into crisis. After smoking to much weed his hallucinations bring forth his footballing hero, the famously Eric Cantona, who gives him advice.

Johan Primero (Netherlands, 2010)
Each day Johan drives 50 times around the stadium of FC Barcelona in his 2CV, for the luck of the club. Although Johan enjoys this daily ritual, we soon discover that he has a very lonely side.

Liverpool Goalie (Norway, 2011)
13-years old Jo has a lot of problems: He is mobbed in school and as a goalkeeper he is a disaster. How this loser could impress the beautiful and intelligent Mari, who loves football?