Corneliu Porumboiu: Football Infinite

Here comes the website description of this original Romanian documentary, so precise that there is no reason for me to add anything, after that my thoughts about the film:

They talk about the beautiful game, but for Laurențiu Ginghină, it’s not enough. Football must be modified, streamlined, freed from restraints; corners are to be rounded off, players assigned to zones and subteams, norms revised. In retrospect, he first realized that the rules of football were wrong when he was tackled during a game in his youth, in the summer holidays, on another pitch now covered in snow, but in Vaslui, not Bucharest. The tackle hit so hard it fractured his fibula, a year later his tibia broke too, on New Year’s Eve 1987, he had to walk home in the snow and no one helped him. Today he’s a local bureaucrat with an uninspiring job, it’s no wonder he prefers to talk about the game, his own version of it, to Porumboiu, his friend, the director, who’s always listening, asking questions, nearly always in frame. Ginghină’s monologues

are so rich you might think someone wrote them in advance, they proceed from the same old subject, but never stay in one place. All roads lead to football, but all roads lead away from it too, to land ownership issues, to orange farms in Florida, to political utopia and the traces left by life, to version 2.0, 3.1, 4.7, to infinity…

In the conversations with the director Ginghină compares himself to Superman and other superheroes, who lead double lives – as he does in his non-working hours, ”I revolutionise sports”, he is seeking a way to ”free the ball” including to get rid of the off-side rule. His suggestions are not welcomed by a football coach when they are tested in a sports hall, but Ginghină has new ideas. It’s not in the film but I remember Johan Cruyff saying to his players in Barcelona, ”remember that the ball never gets tired”. They should have met…

Anyway this is NOT about football, it is about a man searching for a good life, a man who has been met with obstacles, a man who knows Greek mythology, a dreamer living in a country with obstacles, a sympathetic man who was fascinated with Romania entering the EU, but disappointed today: where is the European identity… An amazing scene in the film takes place in the boring office, where Ginghină works. A man comes in with an old woman, 92 years old, who wants on paper that she is the righful owner of her land. Ginghină tries to find the person who is in charge of this area in the municipality office, he succeeds and gets to know that the application papers have been sent to Bucharest. Porumboiu, the director, has this comment, on camera: ”27 years after the revolution and she has not got her land back!”.

Towards the end of the film the father of Ginghină steps into the film and we see on a photo that Ginghină has been married without getting to know what happened with her and the marriage?

A gentle philosophical essay on passion and freedom, light in tone, yet deep in content.

Romania, 2018, 70 mins.

If you are in Berlin, there is still a screening thursday:

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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