On Football: All about my father
by Giovanni Melogli
- LOCARNO 2015: The Spanish film, screened in competition at Locarno, is a complicated balancing act between reality and fiction, based on the real-life encounter between the director and his father
The paradigm of a game of football transcribed in film. This is how Sergio Oksman, the director of On Football [+see also:
interview: Sergio Oksman
film profile], describes his film: a symmetrical field, two actors (teams) and the unpredictable nature of the game once it begins: both in the context of the World Cup and a son who goes in search of a father he has not seen for twenty years.
The Spanish film, which is being screened in competition at the 68th Locarno Film Festival, starts with the plan of a father and son to follow the 2014 World Cup, being held in Brazil, together. Sergio tracks down his father Simão in 2013 in San Paolo, after not seeing him for twenty years. Theirs is a story of two strangers who find that common ground on which to get to know one another in football.
On Football is a complicated balancing act between reality and fiction, based on the real-life encounter of the director with his father. The screenplay was written by Sergio Oksman and Carlos Muguiro as pure fiction: the personal and football-based journey (many scenes are shot in the car) of a father and his son organised around matches. “We decided that fiction would be the best way of portraying reality”, said screenwriter Muguiro at a press conference.
But just like football, reality is unpredictable: during filming, Simão was admitted to hospital after suddenly falling ill, and died a few days later. Nonetheless, the film remained faithful to its original artistic structure, intertwining the death of the father with the national shame of Germany beating Brazil 7 – 1.
As the director explains: “the editing of the material we filmed was an extremely delicate task, we had to leave it be for a few months, so that we could look at it without being influenced by my personal experienced”.
The game ends with the death of one of the contenders. The son is left driving the car alone, breaking the symmetry he previously had with his father, in a ghost San Paolo that has lost the poetry of football and is only able to rejoice in its defeat of the much-hated Argentina.
(Translated from Italian)