Monday, January 21, 2008

Euro 2008 Film Festival: Group B, Poland

Film Festival Rules & Guidelines

Film selected (Year, Director): Edi (2002, Piotr Trzaskalski)
Rating: 9/10
Rules compliance: All rules met

Relevance to Soccer: Teamwork, friendship and taking one's chances

"Dream-cup run", "fairy tale season", "dreamland". These are just some terms used when a team with no superstars overcomes a team loaded with world famous names. Given the amount of money in the current game, it is getting harder for teams with little budgets to overcome a team of millionaires. But it does happen every now and then, both at the club and international team level. In fact, at the last European Championships (Euro 2004 held in Portugal) Greece defied all the odds to win their first ever major soccer tournament. Despite not having any superstars, the Greek team managed to beat the hosts Portugal twice (in the opening and final game), knocked out the defending Euro 2000 Champs France (Zidane, Henry and the other big French stars were present), edged past the talented Czech team in the semi-finals and managed to hold Spain to a 1-1 tie. A 2-1 loss to Russia in the final group game almost knocked Greece out but they elbowed past Spain on goal difference to make it to the Quarter-finals where they beat France.

One of the major reasons Greece prevailed was because the team was able to defend like a unit. There were no individual stars in the team so every player chiped in with a workman like approach. The combined teamwork and a defensive game plan meant that Greece won matches in a precise chess like manner. Ofcourse, team-work alone can't always win matches against the big name talented teams. Luck also plays a big part. Teams with limited skills and talents have to take every chance that comes their way because they will not be able to create as many efforts on goal as their talented counter-parts. Example, Greece did not create too many changes against their opponents and won games only by a 1 goal margin (2-1 and 1-0 over Portugal, 1-0 over France and Czech Republic). Had Greece not taken their solitary chances, they would surely have been knocked out. Solid teamwork and the ability to take one's chances are a good starting point to overcome an almost unbeatable team.

The emotional Polish film Edi is about two characters who live on the fringes of society. Edi and his friend, Jureczek, are the victims of a harsh economy and find themselves earning a living by collecting scrap metal. Their friendship allows the two to get through their poverty stricken lives with a smile – Jureczek is constantly trying to ensure Edi is in lighter spirits, whereas Edi is able to make the right decisions for their day to day lives. The film contains plenty of beautiful aerial shots depicting moments in the two characters lives. The following two pictures are from an opening sequence where Edi and Jureczek have to navigate through traffic with their precious goods.

Thanks to Edi's educational background, the two are given a brief shot at a better life. Because of this new opportunity, Edi and Jureczek get to spend the night in a rich person's house. Jureczek finds pleasure in sitting back and watching a local soccer game on tv, something he can’t often do. And when the soccer game is over, alcohol helps to pass the day.

But life is tough at the bottom. A cruel lie results in innocent Edi getting beat up and put in charge of someone else's baby. At first, he sees this as a hassle but he eventually warms up to the child. Despite not having any money, Edi finds true happiness in raising the baby.

As per the film's bleak sentiments, unhappiness finds Edi again. But thankfully, Edi and Jureczek can still smile after going through a roller coaster emotionally ride. When one is at the bottom, simple things can bring happiness and a smile -- there are no lofty ambitions, no grand titles to be won. There is just the pleasure of navigating through everyday life.

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