The Art of Zizou

Once in awhile, if there’s a truly special player on the pitch, it’s fun to focus on that single player, following him all around, on the ball but mostly off.

Once in awhile, if there’s a truly special player on the pitch, it’s fun to focus on that single player, following him all around, on the ball but mostly off.

But sometimes you blink or, worse yet, if you’re a defender, you get caught ball-watching. In the case of Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, the camera never blinks.

Seventeen cameras were trained on Zinédine Zidane, the great and now retired French footballer, during a 2005 La Liga match at the Bernabeu between Real Madrid and Villareal. Through those lenses, from both near and far, filmgoers will witness a game in the life of Zidane. The running time? You guessed it, just a bit over 90 minutes.

Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait played to capacity crowds earlier this spring in Seattle, returns for an encore presentation next week, June 13-15 (nightly, 7 & 9:15) at the Northwest Film Forum (12th Ave at Pike on Capitol Hill).

On occasion, this follow-him-everywhere technique is used in sports broadcasts around the world. For instance, the BBC gives viewers the option of a split-screen cutaway of a featured player for 10-15 minutes at a time. Here in the land of the short attention span, networks might provide a 30-second package of personal highlights. Yet Zidane is the entire game, synchronized from a multitude of angles.

One moment, somewhat like Marco Materazzi, you’re in his face. The next, you see Zizzu from afar, against the canvas of 75,000 singing, chanting fans.

This is particularly evident when Real goes a goal down. At that point, Zidane shifts to another gear and, quite simply, gets things done. He sets-up Real’s tying goal. Oops, forgot the spoiler alert.

The soundtrack, music by the Scottish band Mogwai, proves most complimentary to Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, which probably would be considered 60:40 in terms of an art to football ratio.

And just think, it’s a rarity when David Beckham, Zidane’s right flank, doesn’t get top billing. Now that’s really different.

The World Comes to Tukwila

Speaking of soccer and culture, it all comes together live in Tukwila beginning this weekend.

The sixth annual All Nations Cup [LINK to earlier feature: //] gets underway Friday night (June 6). There will be music, food, dance and the opening ceremonies at 6:30 followed by the first four games, all at 7 at the Starfire Sports Complex.

Over 40 countries will be represented in these qualifying rounds. Yet it is the celebration of culture which is profound and soon evidenced by a stroll throughout the fields. There are myriad styles of both dress and play on display. The common language, the common bond, is the world’s game.

The All Nations Cup continues June 13-15 with the men’s Round of 16, the start of play for the youth, women and masters, and the freestyle competition. The final week, June 16-22, features the final three knockout rounds.

For more information, see

European Vacation

Just as Seattle’s weather stinks these days, so does the forecast for Switzerland and the Euro 2008 opening matches Saturday. Unseasonably cool and wet sound familiar?

However this 22-day festival of football will surely finish in sunshine, and with a new champion. Greece shocked the world four years ago, beating 150-1 odds to shock Portugal, the host, in the final and lift the trophy.

That got Greece some love and respect. This time they are ranked 8th in the world and merely 30-1 long shots. The longest of odds is saved for co-host Austria at 125-1.

Next to the World Cup, the Euro is the planet’s biggest tournament, and perhaps the most exciting due to its unpredictability (remember Danish Dynamite in ’92) and its proximity for passionate traveling fans.

The first 10 days’ drama will likely center on Group C, the Group of Death populated by three of FIFA’s top 10 nations: France, Holland and reigning world champion Italy. Only two will survive.

While Germany (4-1) is the favorite of the odds makers, Portugal (7-1) could prove to be the Cinderella story, if only the media circus surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo’s rumored move to Real Madrid can be quelled. As for more odds, any bets on whether Ronaldo will stutter-step before taking a penalty?

Turn On, Tune In

Count ‘em, 16 consecutive days of European Championship play begins Saturday morning on ESPN Classic and ESPN2. Better be in shape because it’s two-a-days through June 18.

Highlights for the first five days include Holland-Italy on Monday and Spain-Russia on Tuesday (both 11:30 a.m., ESPN2).

Will it be friendly, or simply Messi? See for yourself Sunday (4:30 p.m., ESPN Classic), when Team USA hosts Argentina, the No. 1 team in the world. So far, the Yanks are goalless in two losses to England and Spain. Argentina, on the other hand, just demolished Mexico 4-1 behind Lionel Messi’s goal and assist.

Another question: Does the Chicago Fire really need Brian McBride? See for yourself as the Fire, holders of the league’s best record, host D.C. United on Saturday (5:30 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel). Next Thursday (June 12) is another MLS Cup rematch between Houston and New England (6 p.m., ESPN2).


The Sounders are back home at Starfire for their next three USL games, beginning Saturday night at 8 against Minnesota. On June 12, the Sounders will host Juventus Primavera, the Italian giant’s feeder squad. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the gate…Saturday night the unbeaten Sounders women play their first road game at Vancouver…Congratulations to Highline PFC Heat ‘88, winners of the state boys U19 championship and the inaugural Cliff McCrath Cup. The Heat and other state champions in ages U12-19 will travel to Honolulu for the US Youth Soccer Region IV tournament June 16-22…The city of Manchester may lose a superstar this summer but also gain one. The asking price of Manchester United’s Ronaldo could surpass the world record of 46 million pounds paid by Real Madrid for Zidane in 2001. Meanwhile, Man City is pursuing Ronaldinho, now on the block at Barcelona…There will be a new champion of South America. Both Ecuador’s LDU Quito and Brazil’s Fluminense are making their first appearance in the final stage of the Copa Libertadores. Many are calling the Flu’s 3-1 comeback victory over defending champion Boca Juniors on Wednesday night the world’s game of the year to date.