Kicking + Screening Soccer Film Festival Showcases Culture of the Sport

Don’t believe everything you see on the screen — even at a film festival!

The eighth annual Kicking + Screening soccer film festival began with that very message at the Scandinavia House in New York City on Tuesday night. Konspiration 58 (Conspiracy 58) is a Swedish short film that claims the 1958 World Cup in Sweden was all fabricated.

Historian Bror Jacques de Wærn has dedicated more than 20 years of research to disprove the event took place. He claims the event was orchestrated by the CIA, FIFA and media. He is the founder of an organization, initially described as ‘militant,’ called KSP58, which recruits members who share similar sentiments.

The documentary also interviews members of the Sweden ’58 team, including Agne Simonsson, Kurt Hamrin and Sigvard Parling, who say they played in the tournament … or are their memories incorrect after all these years?

Viewers laugh throughout at the outrageous claims by de Wærn, not knowing whether to believe him or feel sorry for him. It isn’t until after the credits that a message appeared on the screen letting viewers know it was all fake. A mockumentary. Laughter and sighs of relief followed suit.

Kudos to director Johan Löfstedt.

Following Konspiration 58 was a film entitled Stickers: Collecting Fever, a German documentary highlighting the industry of and obsession with collecting, particularly Panini stickers.

‘Football stickers are probably the most popular collected item in the world,’ the narrator boasts.

The Panini Group, founded by four brothers in Modena, Italy, in 1961, is the largest supplier of these soccer stickers. It produced approximately 800 million stickers ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which can be bought in nearly 110 countries worldwide. They are an essential part of any young football fan’s childhood.

The film interviewed a variety of professional soccer players, including German international André Schürrle and former internationals Torsten Frings and Oliver Bierhoff. The players are proud to look at their careers through the stickers, poking fun at their smiles (or lack thereof) and various hair styles.

‘Panini is always following you,’ Frings said.

Schürrle said when he was a kid, not only were these cards and stickers traded, they would also be used to play games — who could fling them the furthest (though some kids would cheat by taping cardboard to their stickers) or who could throw them closest to a wall.

The success of the Panini stickers resulted in a few spinoffs, including tschutti Heftli, a Swiss card company that uses artist drawings and renderings of players instead of photographs like Panini uses.

Following the films, viewers were treated to a live panel discussion about soccer, culture and art featuring Kicking + Screening founder Greg Lalas, Sports Illustrated senior writer Grant Wahl and others.

‘I still have my 1986 (Panini) album,’ Lalas said. ‘I carried a Michel Platini sticker in my wallet for 15 years because he was my favorite player.’

He has since removed the sticker for obvious reasons.


Kicking + Screening continues through Friday at Scandinavia House in New York City. Tickets can be purchased here.

Wednesday

CLUB FRONTERA

The movie tells the story of Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles (Xolos), a Liga MX club founded in 2007 that very quickly has had a dramatic impact on the city of Tijuana, Mexico. Players, fans and political figures from both sides of the USA-Mexico border share their personal stories as Xolos make a run to the 2012 Liga MX Championship, unifying and rejuvenating the city.

Join K+S for a special post-screening Q+A with Club Frontera director Chris Cashman and Xolos player Alejandro Guido.

Thursday

UNO: LA HISTORIA DE UN GOL (ONE: THE STORY OF A GOAL)

While a bloody civil war rages at home, El Salvador’s national team travels to Spain for the 1982 World Cup — one of only two World Cup tournaments the nation has ever qualified for. In their opening match, they lose to Hungary, 10-1 – still the heaviest defeat in World Cup history. But that goal, that one goal, scored by Luis Ramirez Zapata, remains a symbol of pride and joy for the tiny nation. This is the story of that goal and its continuing legacy.

SHORT FILM : THE UNRELENTING CHARLIE DAVIES

Join K+S for a special Q+A with New York Cosmos and El Salvador international midfielder Andres Flores.

Friday

SOMMEREN ‘92 (SUMMER OF ‘92)

In 1992, the Danish national team had failed to qualify for the European Championship in Sweden. The players were already on the beach on holiday when they were called up in their summer residences with a surprising message: Yugoslavia was disqualified because of the civil war that had ripped through the area, and the Danes were set to replace them. The rest is history.

NOTE: First appeared on Culture Trip

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