Posted: 07/15/2009

 

Kicking & Screening Scores With New Yorkers

(2009)

by Annie Vinton




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The launch of the all soccer film festival Kicking & Screening scored a victory at last night’s opening. When I walked into the dining room turned screening room at Opia, it appeared to be “standing room only,” but I managed to find one remaining seat that happened to be at the table where co-founder Rachel Markus was seated.

At 8:30pm sharp, Markus’ partner in this venture, Greg Lalas, opened the evening with a few words about the festival and thanked all of those who have supported it with a special thanks to one of the biggest sponsor, The Financial Times.

Just prior to the featured film Les Yeux dans les Bleus, Lalas introduced Lusaka Sunrise, a seven minute short highlighting the charitable beneficiary for the evening, Grassroot Soccer, a non-for-profit that’s uses the “Power of Soccer in the Fight Against HIV and AIDS” in Africa. This piece was produced by Smooth Feather Productions, a company comprised of “filmmakers and artists that create films for those that inspire us at no cost with no strings attached.” This very insightful piece set the tone for the festival and reminded everyone of the powerful and global language of soccer.

Les Yeux dans les Bleus, an extremely up-close and behind the scenes take on France’s journey through the 1998 World Cup was the perfect movie to kick off the festival especially since Markus showed as much perserverance in obtaining the rights for it as France’s quest. Initially when Markus attempted to launch this festival in London she chose Les Yeux dans les Bleus as the festival’s premier after viewing it at the Berlin Festival. She made all the right calls to obtain the rights and when things seemed a bit stalled, she just “happened” to pass through Paris and didn’t leave until there was a copy of it in her hands, which as she described looked like “some bootleg version of the movie.” When London didn’t get off the ground, she knew she’d have to jump through a few more hoops to obtain the U.S. rights and her continued tenacity was rewarded.

Many in the audience had seen the film before, but watching it with fellow soccer fans brought the vibe of the film to a whole new level with some people cheering and clapping as if they were watching the game footage for the first time. The energy level was elevated as well and when it concluded, conversation ensued and carried into the adjoining lounge.

In speaking with both Lalas and Markus after the room finally cleared, they both seemed relieved that they’d made it through the first round and agreed the success of the evening exceeded their expectations. However, like any great event organizers, this was a fleeting emotion and they mentally moved on, hoping the momentum continues through the festival, which I have no doubt it will.

Tonight’s sold out event is being hosted at the TriBeca Grand featuring Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos with an appearance by former Cosmo Shep Messing and I now know to arrive early to guarantee myself a seat!

Tomorrow night’s panel discussion on Beckham’s influence on American soccer followed by an MLS game viewing party is free and tickets for Friday and Saturday evening’s events can be purchased at www.kickingandscreening.com.

Annie Vinton Annie Vinton is a freelance writer and film critic living in NYC. You can read more about her and her writing at her blog at www.runavrun.blogspot.com



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