When Stuart Meney isn’t coaching kids’ football, he’s supporting his premier league team (Darlington FC; “it’s a long story”) or watching sport cinema. This cheery British expatriate is part of a three-man team with a lifelong passion for the sport. Football is so entrenched in these men’s lives that they’ve concocted their own niche film festival.
“A couple of us volunteered for non-profits and charities in the football space,” Meney explains. “We connected there and started getting together to argue about football. Then we moved on to coordinating a festival.”
Football Film Festival’s program combines feature, documentary and short film. These narratives shed light on multiple perspectives within sport communities; player, fan, administrators, the families and even politicians. Meney describes this as the “other side” of the football, the real stories.
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“Away from the glamour and the trophies, these are the reasons people go and watch games,” Meney says. “A lot of the stories are real. We’re just allowing people to sit down and spend an hour or two understanding and sharing those emotions.”
This being the first Football Film Festival, Meney and the team acquired a selection from around the world. The curation process took around nine months, with the festival’s first showing in Parramatta at the beginning of October proving a success. Meney struggles to choose a favourite from the program, but leans towards the documentary offerings.
“There’s one documentary called Black and White Democracy,” Meney says. “It’s about Socrates and the Corinthians football team in São Paulo, Brazil. It shows how influential a single player was within a team and then how influential that team was in the politics of the country.”
Meney also expects a great response from the Italian documentary, A Wonderful Season of Failure. “It’s really well put together,” he says. “This is a real story – players who are real people and fans who are real people. You get to see them connect in various ways and create change accordingly. It’s really exciting.”
The Football Film Festival will screen at Palace Norton Street Cinema in Leichhardt, from October 22–25.