Hamid Benamra*

There is no other popular human practice that can compete with football except for drinking coffee and tea. Although it originated in England, it is widely played all over the world.

Despite this immense popularity, it was not adequately handled in cinema the way boxing was in several classical films. Often two films will come in mind when football and cinema are discussed. The first one is Victory for John Huston. It features prisoners in a Nazi prison in France, where prisoners go against the guards. The film stars Pele and Boby Moore. The second one is for Wim Wenders and entitled The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick that we recall its long title more than its dramatic content.


Moving between clubs, a Palestinian might cross twenty checkpoints (Aljazeera)

What we have in common now is not the line of a soccer pitch that is hosting the World Cup finals, but the red line that Israel has stepped over the Palestinian football and its teams.

The French director, Stéphane Valentin, launched his film Ramallah's Maradona with takes of kicks towards the box. Life here comes to an end because of the number of checkpoints that have no space for a soccer ball.

The title bears a high caliber media bomb, "What does Maradona resemble to the Palestinian soccer?" Does the Palestinian cinema in need of an international icon to get out of its media blockade? Does the blockade end only with ships, or does cinema have a fleet that can't be stopped? Thus, is the title bait that the director use to catch the audience and the commentator, or does he inspire the Palestinian generations that play an integral role in exposing the reality of colonialism? That is, do Palestinians have the skillful feet of Maradona?

Stéphane Valentin leaves the ball in the court of the UN that doesn't play in the league of popular neighborhoods, and never enforced a UN resolution to the Palestinian to date. He also leaves the ball in the court of the French politicians who defend any military captive that occupy the land of others. They defend this captive walking in streets demonstrations lifting his portraits in the streets of Paris. Their act portrays holding soldiers hostages in wars is worse than holding thousands of Palestinians as hostages.

The film employs the ball to denounce all the false beliefs about life in the occupied territories. It also disperses the false image of a country whose border has been shrinking from sixty years ago.

Valentin isn't directing a sporting film about the health effects of football on Palestinians. Rather, he uses it to revive the forgotten memory about the first Palestinian national team found in 1928 and that took part in the first World Cup in 1930.

Stéphane Valentin highlighted the Palestinian towns and cities in lieu of the Natzi crimes (Aljazeera)

The film tricks its viewers alternately between serious and denouncing scenes, and those that harvest the sprouts for smiley faces of children. They take the street as a pitch and their audiences are lined up on the pavement. There was a scene of dome of the rock depicted as a half golden dome in the late afternoon.

Valentin pulled out the names of Herzl and Rothschild who had a primary responsibility in the force-immigration of locals and replacing them with temporary residents from European origins. He pauses for the record of cities and towns that were crashed in lieu of the Natzi crimes that Palestinians have nothing to do with. Later, he points his finger towards his compatriot, Michel Platini, the president of the Union of European Football Associations who was received by the head of the occupation state for a visit around the European Championship 2013 for juniors under 20.

If Platini was skillful in shooting the ball above the defensive wall and posing a threat to world-known goalkeepers, so what does he know about the history of the man he is meeting with? What does Platini know about the Zionist groups of Haganah, Shtern, and Irgun? Did Platini forget that his father sought refuge in France from Fascism? How it is possible for a non-European country to take part in a European football championship? Paltini turns a blind eye over the daily violations on the occupied pitch next door from sixty years ago.

We summon the modern history when the French-Palestinian activist Salah Hamouri was jailed for seven years, and the French politicians took no action. Those politicians who are tough on issues like the freedom of women, freedom of speech, and freedom of thought. They follow their beliefs blindly unless the issue is about a prisoner fighting oppression. That is, Hamouri's citizenship is not equal to that of the French soldier although they hold the same passport.

Because the ball is round and keeps rolling, the film returns to France where callers to boycott Israel are indicted and trialed before courts

According to Clint Eastwood, "the world is divided into two blocks" in one of the famous Western films The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. He added, "Some people have the gun while others have the motivation, so you motivate."

In Ramallah's Maradona, we slightly amend the quote above so it becomes "some people own the bomb while others watching it explodes". Some Palestinians want a grave that they can't dig. This is because when some Palestinian prisoners die; their families can't recover their bodies until the sentence is served, according to Salah Hamouri.

In October 2008, the Palestinian football team inaugurated Faisal Al-Hussain Stadium in a friendly game with their Jordanian peer. The occupation authorities tried hard to make the Jordanian team turn down the invitation.

The barricades and checkpoints between neighborhoods don't allow the Palestinian player to attend his practice and weekly matches. There are not less than 20 checkpoints that take six hours for the player to pass through 10 kilometers.

Six hours are taken from his life and from the life of imprisoned Palestinian football. If the football match is next to a settlement that doesn't like football, so firing bullets on players and the fans is not an indictable offense.

The wall is erected against the law and stretches over eight hundred and eight kilometers with a cost of 3.3 billion dollars. More than 500 firms helped in building the wall. The wall swallowed more than 12% of the agreed-upon Palestine to be.
The film employs the ball to denounce all the false beliefs about life in the occupied territories. It also disperses the false image of a country whose border has been shrinking from sixty years ago

The film dives in a mathematical practice where figures, percentages, and dates accumulate. So, the film turns into a record of lists and names of people that should be only mentioned briefly. To this effect, why does the film provide figures and statistics that can only be interpreted by specialists, or was that a tactic to focus on their revolutionary role? Does the over use of details disturb the picture and its content or does it make it more cohesive with its topic?

Does the documentary film go beyond its framework when it uses subjects from TV reportage? Or does the use of news report style make the film more realistic?

Whistles of the referee and the sirens of the alarm
The sounds of the whistles made by the referee and the sirens of the alarm integrate in a space where planes don't fly to shoot films. Between sunset and sunrise, many people die between one checkpoint and another.

Ramallah's Maradona is a film for marginalized people whose freedom is confined to the light around barbwires around their home country.

Ramallah's Maradona" portrays the life of people who enjoy the bare minimum of freedom (Aljazeera)

The third part of the film kicks off when Platini blocked the camera with his hand in a hotel lobby in disgust. His behavior as if he was aware that his presence there is controversial. The difference between Maradona and Platini is that the first one is rebellious while the second is a politician who runs after his interests. Maradona lifts the flag of the oppressed people, but Platini pays a visit to the army of the oppressor; the first one walks tall while the second one is ashamed of himself. The hunger strike of the footballer Mahmoud Sarsak in his prison and the contest of world players like Cantona, Drogba, and Kanoute over his imprisonment seems to be lenient before the occupier who doesn't recognize UN.

Yet, the occupier doesn't rest in peace because of the activities in the UN in New York. Moreover, the cry of a Palestinian infant who was just born had annoyed Golda Meir, if you remember.

Because the ball is round and keeps rolling, the film returns to France where callers to boycott Israel are indicted and trialed before courts.
"Siege your Besiege" and make every football pitch a country for you.

*Algerian author based in France

Source : Aljazeera