Friday, June 13, 2008

Football As Never Before

ZIDANE, A 21ST CENTURY PORTRAIT / Zidane, un portrait du 21e si/(R)cle
(Douglas Gordon & Philippe Parreno, France/Iceland, 2006, 92 mins.)


"There has never been anything quite like Zidane."
-- International Herald Tribune

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Should you need a non-narrative break from SIFF '08, which ends this Sunday, the Northwest Film Forum encores Douglas Gordon & Philippe Parreno's highly touted Zidane, A 21st Century Portrait starting tonight and running through the 15th.

When I spoke with program director Adam Sekuler about a week or so before
the original run, he enthused that the NWFF had already sold 250 advance tick-
ets. Recently, I interviewed Sekuler via email about SIFF's Alternative Cinema section, which he and co-programmer Andy Spletzer put together. Sekuler emphasized that "the traditional narrative isn't the only way to make films."
He could've easily been talking about this "21st century portrait," in which 17 cam-
eras track the every enigmatic move of former Real Madrid player (and champion headbutter) Zinedine Zidane during the course of a 2005 match against Villareal.
NWFF publicist Ryan Davis proclaimed the first stand "a great success; every single screening was packed, and it's all thanks to our supporters who helped get the word out-and showed up themselves." So, if you missed it the first time around, you've got a second chance, and this one-of-a-kind film works best on the big screen.
Though I didn't have time to write about Zidane in April, I did review the Chemik-
al Underground collection CHEM087CD+DVD, which features contributions from film composers Mogwai (like the band, Gordon hails from Glasgow; Parreno from Paris).
And since there isn't much I can say about Zidane that Visual Arts Editor
Jen Graves didn't already cover in The Stranger, you can follow this link to
read her Slog post (plus comments from a very excited peanut gallery).
For John Otway's immortal "Headbutts," please click here
Zidane, A 21st Century Portrait plays the Northwest Film Forum Fri.-Sun., 6/13-15,
at 7 and 9:15pm. Football as Never Before is the title of the rare 1971 George Best doc that originally played with Zidane (in that case, German experimental director Hellmuth Costard trained eight cameras on the infamous Man United footballer). The NWFF is located at 1515 12th Ave. on Capitol Hill. For more information, please click here or call 206-329-2629. Images from Amazon, The Guardian, and the NWFF.


  1. I saw this here in San Francisco- I am not a bigfootball fan and you don't have to be to enjoy this film. The soundtrack is amazing and the filmmaking technique is astounding- I felt like I was on the field and playing the game myself.

  2. I'm glad to hear that, Anne. I found the combination of Mogwai's hypnotic score, Zidane's impassive--but not inexpressive--face, and the occasional crowd/announcer ambience surprisingly meditative.