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SBD Global/May 7, 2014/People and Pop Culture

'Next Goal Wins' Documentary Tells Story Of World's 'Worst' International Football Team

The world’s "worst" int'l football team -- "and its dogged attempts to haul itself up from the bottom of the global rankings -- provide a wildly engaging subject in the crowdpleasing documentary 'Next Goal Wins,'" according to Charles Gant of VARIETY. Only "the sheer number of earlier, patchier football-themed docus threatens to subdue goalmouth celebrations as this British production gears up for its first date with paying audiences in the U.K." The film "begins during the early qualifying rounds for the FIFA 2014 World Cup." The national football team from the tiny island of American Samoa "has hit rock bottom." It has not won in 17 years. Potential salvation comes in the unlikely form of THOMAS RONGEN, "a Dutch-born force of nature who responds to a plea by the U.S. Soccer Federation for a professional coach to commit for one month and give the team a fighting chance." At the halfway point, "the film reaches for -- and achieves -- a deeper emotional undertow as Rongen tells the team about his own reasons for taking the assignment, and the scars left by the death eight years prior of his 18-year-old daughter in an auto accident." A human-interest film likely to entertain even viewers who do not typically watch sports docs, “Next Goal Wins” faces the "challenge of getting past the soccer label without alienating its core niche." Ticketbuyers "will be rewarded by a warmly uplifting tale, elevated by a guitar-driven score that amplifies emotion along the way." Shot on the ultra high-definition Red Epic-M, "the images show real flair, exploiting dramatic locations for a sense of cinematic scale, while catching intimate closeups at key dramatic moments" (VARIETY, 5/6).
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