The following movie was screened at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival.

The Power of The Game

The Power of The Game
Spotlight, Documentary
2007, U.S.A.
Dir: Michael Apted

The joy of football. The world’s sport. The greatest game on Earth. Football is the most played sport on the planet and every four years the greatest sporting competition takes place, the FIFA World Cup. Director Michael Apted transcends his love for the sport and decides to tackle an immense project in The Power of The Game.

Set against the backdrop of seven different nations, the film tries to examine the importance of football in an ever accelerating and globalizing world. The filmmakers travel to Iran, South Africa, Argentina, England, Pakistan, the United States, and Senegal to try and weave the stories of those touched by the power of the game, which culminates in a triumphant end at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

We see how in South Africa, everyone from Nelson Mandela to local public officials have been pushing for the cup to be held there, and in 2010, South Africa will be the proud host to the sporting event. Everyone involved is quickly preparing the infrastructure of the country to be able to support the hundreds of thousands of spectators expected to attend. This will obviously benefit South Africa greatly and aid it in attempting to overcome its economic instability.

In England and Pakistan we see the link between both countries as Zeshan Rehman, a young Pakistani player, is the first footballer from the Asian sub-continent to play in the British Premiership. Efforts in England are also being made to eradicate racism from the sport.

The Iranian side of the story focuses on the women behind the scene. Women all over Iran love football, but by law they are not allowed to attend games at the stadiums and must watch from their home. Journalist Mahin Gorji, because of her position, was the first woman ever allowed into a stadium, and we travel with her to the World Cup as she experiences the excitement of being there in person.

In Argentina and Senegal, groups of underprivileged youths gather to play street football, where they rejoice and try to pick themselves out of the rut of their poverty-stricken neighborhoods. The youths go to Germany for the street football championship and enjoy the camaraderie among all the other players from around the world.

The U.S. side of the story focuses on the lack of support here for the sport. Known as soccer here, football is not a multi-million industry, as are basketball, baseball, and American football, and is thus ignored. But it is slowly growing and gaining ground.

At times, the film is so large and tries to cover so much ground, that it gets lost. Some of the multiple storylines get blurry and don’t really connect well with each other. This is quite a shame, because the prospects of such a project were enticing.

/Film Rating: 7 out of 10

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