Somehow more than other World Cups before it South Africa 2010 captured the attention and imagination of the world like no soccer competition before. Hundreds of millions even billions followed teams through the competition from beginning to end. Soccer truly was of a global interest and proved itself to be the beautiful game.
I knew right from the beginning that this was not going to be your average screening at the Montreal World Film Festival. And I mean that in a good way. First of all, this is the Chilean film that has been seen by the most viewers ever. Secondly, those in attendance seemed to be all fans of the Chilean soccer team especial three young men who came in with red shirts (like those worn by the Chilean soccer team) and started the crowd going with a Chilean soccer chant. The room was amped up even before the lights went down.
This documentary's subject is the Chilean national soccer team and its efforts to get into the World Cups of 2006 in Germany and 2010 in South Africa. To say that soccer is a passion in the countries that make up the southern part of this side of the globe is an understatement. Countries like Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Mexico eat, breath and sleep soccer. Though I am a soccer player and an avid fan of the sport I was not too familiar with soccer in Chile. I learned plenty watching this documentary.
Chile is a country that tends to be overshadowed in soccer by the likes of Argentina and Brazil, but the people there are just as passionate about it. While their team was going through the qualification process for the 2010 World Cup every victory brought national euphoria and every loss the wringing of hands and the calling for the coach's head.
In the case of the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Chile did not qualify. This lead to the questioning of the dedication of the players, the intelligence of the coach and the general skill of Chilean players. More pressure was put on new coach and former Argentinean manager Marcelo Bielsa and his players like Mark Gonzalez, Jean Beausejour, captain and keeper Claudio Bravo, and Rodrigo Millar than ever. The whole country is invested what the soccer team does in Chile.
The documentary shows how the whole nation began its collective search for an identity on the road to the 2010 World Cup. They begin to think back to when they were a "good" soccer team, rehashings of goals scored and given up are done and how they were going to climb back to the top of the soccer heap. Through their soccer team Chileans began to understand who they were and what they wanted to be. Soccer is so much more than merely a sport to them.
The directors of the film "Ojos Rojos" (Red Eyes) Larrain, Sallato and Sabatini began filming in 2003 to show the struggle that their beloved Chilean footballers had to go through in order to make it to South Africa 2010. The filming of the documentary must have taken an equal amount of stamina as was required of the players in their quest to get to South Africa. They give you clips and scores from every game, interviews with players and fans, video of practice sessions, locker room footage, and press conferences given by the coach of the national team. It is quite an in-depth look at the process of a team qualifying for the World Cup.