Football Under Cover
Photos and Video
The members of the Iranian women's international football (soccer) team possess a dedication to the sport rivaling that of any other group of players in the world. What they lack, however, is a team to play against. When Marlene, the left back of a German soccer club, learns of their situation, she becomes determined to correct it, putting into motion plans for her club to travel to Tehran for a friendly match against the Iranian women. On a preliminary trip to the country to gauge interest in the game, Marlene meets Niloofar, a member of the Iranian women's team who dreams of David Beckham and struggles as a female athlete living under the country's repressive regime. As Niloofar explains, all women risk being reported to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard if they are caught practicing without a headscarf, and no men are to be allowed in the stadium during a women's game. Despite these cultural differences, she and Marlene share a headstrong nature, a love of the sport, and a fierce determination to move forward with the game despite the Iranian government's lack of support. After a year of bitter struggle, Marlene manages to obtain visas for her team, and in April 2006 the group of girls travels to Tehran to stand before a crowd of thousands of cheering women and take part in what promises to be the game of a lifetime. A stirring testament to the power of a small group of people to change minds, Football Under Cover also gives new meaning to the phrase "girl power."
Co-hosted with Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival.
Director's Statement Collapse
Our documentary film is an integral part of the story, which it tells. What is simultaneously paradoxical and unique about it is that it does not document something, which others do but rather accompanies and
illustrates, even makes possible, what we ourselves do. The game in question would never have taken place without this film. The film lent things an air of authority and put pressure on the powers that be
to not simply cancel things at the last minute again. The film both motivated us and made us immune to the pressure from the authorities who kept trying to call things off. The financing for the film also covered
the costs incurred in organizing the game. The film therefore depicts an event that would never have occurred without such depiction.
This is not primarily a film about football. Our main goal (as it were) was to convey an image of Iran that goes beyond the usual clichés and stereotypes. We want to show another side to the country, a different one to those that are largely prevalent: the strict religious theocracy, the joyless ‘terror regime,’ or even the decadent society, obsessed with fun, parties, and cosmetic surgery. By creating a cultural dialogue via football, we are trying to put across a more realistic image, one that is not ideologically warped from the outset. No politics, just passion.
The personal environments of individual players in both cities, Berlin and Teheran, lie at the heart of things. These are revealed as having a lot in common, more than the different natures of their surroundings would immediately suggest. Perhaps the familiarity of home and the strangeness of the Orient are themselves nothing less than prejudices.
Film Information Collapse
[FOOTB] | 2007 | 86 | Documentary Feature
Directed by: David Assmann and Ayat Najafi
Foreign Title: (Football Under Cover)
Language: German, English, Farsi
Cast & Credits Collapse
Principal Cast Niloofar Basir, Narmila Fathi, Sanna El-Agha alias "Susu," Paraskevi Boras alias "Paros," Marlene Assmann, Hueseyin Karaduman
Co-Producers Corinna Assmann, Marlene Assmann
Producers Roshanak Behesht Nedjad, Helge Albers, Patrick Merkle
Editor Sylke Rohriach
Composer Niko Schabel
Directors of Photography Anne Misselwitz, Niclas Reed Middleton
Sound Design Anton Feist, Detier Schitto
About the Director(s)Collapse
Ayat Najafi (b. 1976, Teheran) studied stage and set design in Teheran, where he participated in a number of different theatrical productions as a director, author, actor, and set designer. After completing his studies in 2001, he made several short films and took part in the Berlinale Talent Campus in 2005. Football Under Cover is his first feature film. David Assmann (b. 1978) attended schools in Berlin, Heidelberg, Jerusalem, Santa Monica, and Konstanz. Since 2001, he has studied script writing for the media at the University of Mainz. Throughout his studies, he has also worked as an editor, DJ, and presenter on the monthly "Kinoscop" program on Radio Ruesselsheim. Football Under Cover is his first feature film.