PORTLAND, Ore. - In 2010, Ben Meyerson and Gavin Sullivan were putting the finishing touches on a documentary that had consumed their lives for the previous eight months. They were getting ready to show the film, “Argentina Futbol Club,” in their hometown of Seattle when a strange, but very helpful coincidence occurred.
The Sounders FC – one of the great stories in North American soccer from the previous year – was inviting one of the clubs from Argentina that was featured most prominently in the film to Seattle for a mid-summer friendly.
When Boca Juniors came to town in May, it timed out perfectly with the release of the film and the days leading up to the match proved the perfect launching pad for screenings of “Argentina Futbol Club.”
Now, nearly 28 months later, the project has come full circle and will be shown in Portland at the 2012 Kicking and Screening Soccer Film Festival beginning today.
“We had started back in Seattle in 2010 in distribution and marketing of the film. I’m from Seattle and Seattle is a huge market for soccer so it was a great place to start,” Sullivan said. “It was a nice coincidence. It’s literally made its way around the world and back.”
After kicking off in Seattle, the documentary has been screened in 20 countries and 15 different festivals worldwide. A Spanish-language film with English subtitles, the documentary is currently being translated with Japanese subtitles to prepare for the launch in Japan. Along the way, there were stops in Los Angeles, Houston, New York and London as part of Kicking and Screening before finally landing in Portland during derby week when the Sounders FC face the Portland Timbers on Saturday at JELD-WEN Field.
If playing the film in Seattle while Boca Juniors was in town was the perfect starting point, finishing their world tour in Portland during the rivalry week may be the perfect conclusion. The Sounders-Timbers derby bares striking resemblance, though on a different scale, to the rivalry between Boca Juniors and River Plate depicted in the film.
“It was heaven-sent, in a nutshell. We had no clue. I was living in Argentina and flew back to Seattle with the intent to try to get this thing out, then out of nowhere, the game against Boca was announced,” Sullivan said. “It really jumpstarted what we were trying to do. At that point Portland was somewhere we wanted to show it, now we’ve been around the world and we are finally getting there.”
Sullivan lived in Argentina for three years, working as a journalist, before the project was started. He had seen the passion of the soccer fans in Buenos Aires, but also saw that it was a love rooted much deeper than the game itself.
So he, Meyerson and Juan Pablo Roubio dove head first into that deep-seeded passion and showed the depth of the relationship between the fans of the club and the club itself.
“It’s more than just a football club. It’s a social club. That side of it was really fascinating to me. The film focuses on the fact that these are civic organizations,” Sullivan said. “It’s one of those things that will be relevant in 10-20 years because we are talking about things that are much larger than the here and now.”
The same story is building in Seattle and Portland, as well as other soccer communities around the country, where parents are passing on their love of the club to their children and fans from a generation of North American Soccer League clubs are back in the stands watching the same club they followed 35 and 40 years ago.
“Anybody who has ever watched sports can identify with assuming a team and taking that team on and owning it. ‘We lost on Sunday. We won on Sunday’,” Sullivan said. “That whole ‘We’ element has always been fascinating. How much influence does ECS have on a game? I’d like to venture to guess that it does have a lot of influence.”
The Kicking and Screening Soccer Film Festival begins Wednesday. “Argentina Futbol Club” will be shown Thursday at 7:30 pm at Urban Studio in Portland. For more information, visit http://www.kickingandscreening.com/blog/portland-2012.html.