Diamantes Negros, a docudrama that follows two aspiring amateur footballers from Mali as they pursue their dreams to be famous players in the professional European football leagues. Amadou and Moussa, motivated by their desire to make their fathers proud and buy their mothers a brand new house that lacks nothing, realize that their opportunity has arrived when two professional agents offer them a contact to travel to Spain and play for a football club. Once they arrive, however, they find themselves in a nightmarishly unknown world, where people aren’t always as friendly as one might hope, particularly in the cutthroat, corrupted and greedy world of professional football.
Director Miguel Alcantud, a native of Cartagena, Spain, has a penchant for documenting competitive worlds that don’t always rise to the surface for all spectators. Alcantud’s 2007 Anastezsi documented the brutally competitive underground of Europe’s best youth violinists. Here again, we are treated to an eye-opening exposé of youth, talent and the pursuit of dreams in Europe’s most elite echelons of entertainment. The exploitation of youth, particularly the manipulation of their most precious dreams, is at the heart of Diamantes Negros.
Eventually, when Amadou and Moussa’s footballing futures become less promising, we follow them to the streets as they pursue life’s other treasures: happiness, friendship and travel. All the while, Alcantud maintains a realistic eye, and does not reach for Hollywood happiness; rather, he lets his camera show the story, the good and the bad, the victories and defeats. Diamantes Negros is like taking a big drink of pure life, and everything that comes with it.
SHOWING TONIGHT, APRIL 16TH @ 7PM IN THE NATIONAL HISPANIC CULTURAL CENTER
Spanish/Portuguese production, a docudrama directed by Miguel Alcantud, traces the journey of two young boys from Mali across Spain, Portugal, and northern Europe-an odyssey of deceptions and abuses-after they are persuaded to pursue their dream of becoming professional soccer players. Revealing the sordid underground of Europe's most popular sport, the film received the Audience Award (Premio del Público) at the Málaga Spanish Film Festival. 98 minutes; not rated.
If the texture of fabrics could be applied to film, then Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s second feature film, Stockholm (2013), would be cotton. Not because cotton is average or mundane, but rather the contrary; cotton is at once ancient and modern – just like stories of courtship, romance and the search for young love.
Stockholm is a beautiful and poignant romance that deals with the age-old subject of courtship and romantic pursuit, however this ancient narrative subject is set firmly in the modern, contemporary environment. Although Stockholm has gained something of a minor cult status in Spain for its adept portrayal of how it is to search for love as a twenty-something in the millennial generation, much of its appeal actually lies in the universality of the story. The spaces, the contemporary details and, of course, the leading actors (Aura Garrido and Javier Pereira) are firmly positioned in the present moment; however, much of the ultimate power resides in the revelation that so many things stay the same, despite so many changes.
For instance, Sorogoyen aptly portrays courtship, flirtation and the romantic pursuit as being at once everything and nothing; in other words, we try and act casual and comfortable when inside we are all searching for different things. These tensions are central to this beautifully woven story, and have also been the reason that Stockholm has been likened to Richard Linklater’s classic Before Sunrise trilogy. Although the presence of youth and modernity are undeniable in these romantic tales, the timelessness is of equal import. Like cotton, which was at one time an item of incredible luxury and has now become a symbol of casual t-shirt attire and informal, youthful living, Stockholm will leave you wondering about where love and romance fit in with today’s culture and society, and where it doesn’t.
Stockholm won at The Goya Awards and the Malaga Spanish Film Festival, and was nominated for the Audience Choice Award at the Chicago International Film Festival. Stockholm will be showing at the NHCC tomorrow, Thursday, April 9th, at 7:00 pm in the Bank of America Theater. We look forward to seeing you all there as we kick off our series of award-winning contemporary Spanish films!!