Posted: 07/10/2009

 

Kicking & Screening Rolls Into New York City Tomorrow

(2009)

by Annie Vinton




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If you love soccer and you love film, there’s only one place to be if you’re in New York this week and that’s at the Kicking & Screening film festival. The festival, brainchild of Rachel Markus and Greg Lalas, is dedicated solely to films celebrating the “Beautiful Game,” and is running from July 14 to July 18.

Markus, a financial marketer by day developed a passion for soccer dating back to her childhood when she was the only girl in an all boys soccer league. Along the way she also developed a penchant for movies that eventually led her to film school and with this combination, it was no surprise she conjured up the concept of Kicking & Screening. The idea initially struck her when she lived in England and although she was unable to launch the festival there, she didn’t falter. She returned to the States and in April 2009 she was introduced to Lalas through mutual friends more so for personal reasons, but their budding relationship took a different turn.

Lalas’ love for the game began in his formative years in Greece where he “got into the game.” His family then moved to a suburb of Detroit where he played in soccer leagues, travel teams, college and eventually turned pro. After retiring, he attended grad school for journalism, traveled Europe and today is a color commentator for the New England Revolution, a columnist for Sports Illustrated’s Web site and site director of Goal.com.

The two first met at the Half King, a great little spot in NYC’s Chelsea and during the “getting to know you” part of the conversation she mentioned the idea of the festival. After a few more hours and drinks, the film festival seemed totally feasible – he knew soccer and she knew film. Theirs was a match made in soccer and film heaven and by the end of the evening Lalas was emphatic about making it happen, declaring, “Let’s do it in New York. We’ll do this even if we have to host it in our living rooms.”

The two not only complement one another, but are complimentary of one another. Lalas credits Markus’ spot on instincts for the success of the partnership and said, “She is extremely determined and overworking,” and Markus praises Lalas knowledge and understanding of the game and his knowing the right people to make things happen efficiently in New York City. It’s no surprise to anyone that knows them both that within just a few short months of their first meeting they pooled their resources and Kicking & Screening became a reality.

Kicking & Screening is meant “raise the love of soccer” through film and will also support the non-profit organization Grassroot Soccer, dedicated to AIDS and HIV education through soccer in Africa, as some of the proceeds will be donated to the charity. GRS founder and former pro soccer player, Ethan Zohn was introduced to the project by Lalas. Zohn felt this was a great event for GRS to become involved in because “it’s a win-win combo” and he’s supportive of the idea of “using film to get people excited about soccer.” All attendees of the Festival will learn more about GRS courtesy of Smooth Feather Productions as their seven minute film entitled “Lusaka Sunrise” will be shown prior to most of the screenings.

The festival has gained a considerable amount of traction and there’s already been discussions of taking it on the road this Fall to Washington, D.C.; next Spring to South Africa and Massachusetts; and then back to New York City scheduled just prior to the start of the 2010 World Cup.

But, for this week, these two highly ambitious individuals will watch their dream turn into a reality with the hope to “raise the bar going forward for the types of soccer films being made. For such a beautiful game, it’s only a matter of time, we hope, the quality and magic of soccer films grows.”

The five day festival will feature four films and a panel discussion: “Les Yeux dans les Bleus,” documents the story of the 1998 French team that won the World Cup - Opia, July 14; “Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos” - TriBeCa Grand Hotel, July 15; a panel discussion: “Beckham in America” followed by a Red Bulls vs. Los Angeles Galaxy game viewing party - Slainte, July 16; “FC Barcelona Confidential” an examination of one of the top football teams in the world known as much for its success on the pitch as its influence on pop culture - Spanish Benevolent Society, July 17; and “In the Hands of the Gods,” which tracks five soccer players on a search for Diego Maradona - Central Bar, July 18.

To watch the festival trailer and for more information, please visit www.kickingandscreening.com. Stay tuned for reviews and behind the scenes highlights from Festival right here.

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



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