Wednesday, November 18, 2009

2010 Movie World Cup

In 2006, I conducted a personal movie World Cup to go along with the FIFA soccer tournament. The entire experiment of comparing films from the various countries turned out to be quite enjoyable and I repeated similar movie/soccer spotlights for the 2007 Copa America and Euro 2008. Now that all the 32 spots for the 2010 World Cup are filled, it is time to plan for another version of a movie World Cup. The format for the movie World Cup will be once again the same as the soccer tournament, meaning that I will divide films from the 32 countries into the same groups as the soccer tournament. The World Cup draw will take place on Dec 4, so the film groupings will have to wait until then.

In the meantime, I want to start thinking of finding titles from all the countries. Last time around, I watched the movies at the same time as the soccer tournament. That was a bit hectic, so this time I will start watching the movies as early as December and limit my viewing to only a few films per month. My target is to finish watching all the films by June 25, 2010, to coincide with the last day of all the group matches in the soccer World Cup. Another reason to start watching the movies this early on is to ensure I will have enough time to get as many movies from all the countries involved. In 2006, I could only find films from 22 of the 32 countries in the soccer tournament. I really want to get as close to 32 films as possible, although I have a feeling that getting a film from North Korea might prove to be a real challenge.

Here are the 32 countries:

South Africa (hosts), Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast

Australia, Japan, South Korea, North Korea

Denmark, Portugal, Switzerland, Greece, Slovakia, Slovenia, Germany, Spain, England, Serbia, France, Italy, Holland

North, Central America and Caribbean:
USA, Mexico, Honduras

New Zealand

South America:
Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay

[Update, Mar 2010]


The group stages & second round games will follow a similar format to the soccer world cup as all 32 films will be divided into 8 groups of 4 films each with the top two films advancing into the second round. The 16 films in the second round will go through knock out head-to-head matches and be narrowed down to a two film final.

The films will be placed in the same groups as the soccer world cup groups and have the same second round draw as the soccer tournament as well.

Group A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France
Group B: Argentina, Nigeria, Korea Republic, Greece
Group C: England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia
Group D: Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana
Group E: Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon
Group F: Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia
Group G: Brazil, Korea DPR, Côte d'Ivoire, Portugal
Group H: Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile

Group Stage Points

In the world cup the maximum points a team can get from playing their 3 group games is 9. So 9 points is set as the maximum total that a film can achieve. There will be 5 categories used to reach this total for fiction films:

Direction, Acting, Cinematography, Story - 2 points each
Production Values - 1 point

There are quite a few documentaries in the mix and I decided to break the total for those into 3 categories:

Direction, Structure (which includes story and editing), Cinematography - 3 points each

Group Stage Tie Break and Second Round Criteria

Four years ago, it was easy to have this criteria because I did not have any documentaries but this time around trying to pick a winner based on fiction vs documentary is not so straight forward. So to keep things simple, a head-to-head match-up will only feature three categories - Direction, Structure (story and editing) & Cinematography.

In case, two films have the same number of points in the group stages, then a winner will be chosen based on this head to head match-up. The same head to head match-up criteria will also be used in the round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals, 3rd place and final.

If film A is better than a film B in a category, then film A will get 1 point and film B will get 0. In this situation, a maximum score can be 3-0.

If both film A and film B are equal in a category, then they each get 1 point. This could lead to a situation where two films will be tied 3-3. In that case, the winning film will be decided by a subjective vote, which I equate to a penalty shoot-out.

Selection Criteria

#1: Choose a previously unseen feature film solely from the country, meaning no co-productions.

There is no restriction on the film’s production year or the type, meaning the film could be silent, art, commercial, genre, avant-garde or documentary.

The problem is that it is not easy to locate films which will satisfy criteria #1. So I will go down the list of these four fall back options until a film is found.

#2: Choose a previously unseen feature which is a co-production of the World Cup country.

#3: Choose a previously unseen short film from the country.

#4: Re-watch an older film from the country.

#5: Pick a film which is about the country in question or is shot principally in the country.

If I end up at #5, then I am basically grasping at straws. So the #5 selection ensures some sort of representation for the country in question.  For example, if I cannot find a film from Nigeria, then I will resort to using the Canadian documentary Nollywood Babylon which is about Nigeria’s film industry.  Also, if I cannot find a North Korean film, I will re-watch the German documentary Comrades in Dreams which features a story about cinema in North Korea.

The unwritten rule is to ensure some sort of balance among the selections.  In 2006, I had no documentaries and only had narrative fiction features, so this time around I want to mix things up.  Also, I am not going to rush to select films but have multiple films in consideration before making a final choice.  The following is a wish list of sorts which is color coded to indicate the film’s status.

Green: Film has been selected
Orange: Film is in consideration and is available.
Red: Film is in consideration but is not available.

Note: An updated film list can be found here

The following is maintained as an archive of the original first cut:

England: Of Time and the City (Terence Davies)

Mexico: In the Pit (Juan Carlos Rulfo)

South Africa: U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha (Mark Dornford-May)

Japan: Human Condition (Masaki Kobayashi)

Argentina: Liverpool (Lisandro Alonso)

Portugal: I really want a Pedro Costa film.  The question is if the Criterion DVD of Colossal Youth or In Vanda’s Room will be released before the summer of 2010.

Chile: This is turning out to be a fascinating wish-list. Currently, I am keen on these three films in order of preference:

Historias de fútbol (Andrés Wood)
The Maid (Sebastián Silva)
Tony Manero (Pablo Larrain)

I had enjoyed Andrés Wood Machuca as part of my South American spotlight so I am looking forward to tracking down his football related Historias de fútbol.

Paraguay: Paraguayan Hammock (Paz Encina)

Not much choice in terms of picking a film from Paraguay as this is the country's only feature in the last 3 decades.

France: The following two are in consideration

Sans soleil (Chris Marker)
35 Shots of Rum (Claire Denis) 

Spain: The Spirit of the Beehive (Victor Erice)

I have not seen any of the three features that Erice has made so looking forward to seeing his 1973 film.

Italy: Il Divo (Paolo Sorrentino)

This is a co-production but I am leaning towards this feature.

USA: There is no shortage of choices or availability of films from the US which is why this is such a difficult selection. Currently, these two films from two very different eras are up for selection:

Ballast (2008, Lance Hammer)
Scarface (1932, Howard Hawks)

Update: Ballast gets the nod ahead of the 1932 black and white Scarface

Brazil: I may have to hold off on this because some potential Brazilian entries might be released in the early part of 2010. For now, the following is a desired selection and if it is available on DVD first, then I will select it:

Garapa (2009, José Padilha)

What makes this selection interesting is that it is a black and white Brazilian documentary which ends up being at odds with the normally brightly color infused Brazilian cinema that one finds on the film festival circuits.
Another option for Brazil: Margarette's Feast (Renato Falcao)

Greece: Dogtooth (2009, Giorgos Lanthimos)

Honduras: Amor y frijoles (2009, Mathew Kodath/Hernan Pereira) , El Porvier (Oscar Estrada)

Uruguay: Gigante (2009, Adrián Biniez), The Dog Pound (2006, Manolo Nieto)

Serbia: Maradona (2008, Emir Kusturica)

South Korea: Beautiful (2008, Jae-Hong Jeon)

Note: The option of Kusturica's Maradona does violate the selection criteria rules because the film is a Spanish/French co-production that is filmed primarily in Argentina. However, the reason I am willing to make this exception is that Kusturica is a Serbian film-maker and has shot a segment of the film in Serbia. Also, the inclusion of a film about Maradona in a movie world cup appears to make perfect sense.


Brown Country said...

Good idea. All the best.

What about a movie "friendly" match between France and Ireland or Algeria and Egypt?

Sachin said...


I actually thought about having a replay movie match-up between France vs Ireland and getting the winner to be in the movie world cup. As fair as that would be, I dropped the idea because if Ireland qualified, then that might have messed up the group sections. In the soccer world cup, clearly France will get seeded so that they can avoid Brazil and Italy, whereas Ireland would not have had any such seeding. So even if I changed one team from the 32 teams, then I might have had an imbalanced group to begin with.

The fair thing would be for FIFA to own up and order a replay of the extra time between France and Ireland. But FIFA will never do such a thing.

As for Algeria vs Egypt, yes that should be a fire-cracker. I might have to do a two legged match up sometime in the future or I might have to do something regarding the African Cup of Nations in the future :)