Benoît Poelvoorde returns to his homeland with Scouting for Zebras
- Benoît Poelvoorde plays a larger-than-life, but gloomy, manager of an African football team in Scouting for Zebras, by his fellow countryman Benoît Mariage
José, well into his forties, is scouring the Ivory Coast for talented footballers who will bring the European championships to life. Picking up the pieces of his personal life, he also takes the opportunity to help himself to whatever pleasures of the flesh and of the heart Africa can offer him. While you might be expecting to see a film about post-colonial paternalism – the movie explores and exposes the prejudices held about Europeans as well as Africans – the focus shifts slightly and turns the film into a story of fatherhood. Our hero, José, has already tried his luck as a father, and seems to have failed miserably, as demonstrated in a short scene with his son. Suddenly, his search for that special someone who will come and lace up their football boots in Europe ends up resembling a quest for filial love, which culminates in Yaya. An orphaned street child, Yaya finds a father figure in José, with all his flaws as well as his virtues. Thanks to his perseverance, he ends up coaching the Charleroi Zebras to victory, before a silly accident puts an end to this beautiful endeavour.
Scouting for Zebras [+see also:
film profile] marks the reunion of Benoît Poelvoorde and Benoît Mariage, after Le Signaleur (a short film awarded a prize at Cannes), followed by Les Convoyeurs attendent (1998) and Cowboy [+see also:
interview: Benoît Mariage
film profile] (2007). The film also marks the “prodigal son’s” return to his homeland – he won an award at the weekend at the Magritte Belgian cinema awards for his role in Une place sur terre. Poelvoorde hadn’t had a leading role in a Belgian film since Cowboy, so suffice it to say that hopes have been high. The film is being distributed by Bardafeu Cinéma (the satellite distribution arm of Belgian producer MG Productions) in almost 40 theatres, an unusual occurrence for a French-language Belgian film – the standard number for such releases tends to be only around 20. The film is being released the same day in France, distributed by ARP Sélection.
(Translated from French)
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