The Tokyo International Football Film Festival, in order to advance the promotion of football culture, bestows awards upon the works that are screened during the event.
The following prizes have been determined by the judging committee of TIFFF 2015.
Tokyo International Football Film Festival 2015 Grand Prix
Sons of Ben: The Movie
Director: Jeffrey C. Bell
2015 / America / Documentary / 74min
[Judging Committee Comments]
Kiichiro Yanashita (Film Critic, TIFFF 2015 Judging Committee Chairman)
Football films are about supporters.
Of the many things associated with the sport, supporters are the most inexplicable. Why do they devote so much effort to something that often leaves them with nothing but agony? Nobody can answer that. Supporters are a mystery, but filmgoers can most closely identify with them. The pain, irritation, and joy of supporters is something we all understand.
This film festival boasted a magnificent selection of movies about supporters. They demonstrated the foolishness and the nobility of football fans. And the most foolish were in Sons of Ben. This foolish and deeply moving story begins with an idea: “We’re football fans, but we don’t have a club.” The film paints a picture of the Sons of Ben’s change from the philosophically troubling “supporters without a club” to finally having a team to call their own. It could be said that there is no love purer than supporters who literally willed a club into existence.
Istanbul United spares nothing in its depiction of the noble dedication of football supporters. Nothing exemplifies this more than the image of rival supporters linking arms and marching together. But there is a dark side to such devotion, and that story is told by FC Rwanda. These two films show the relationship between the positive and negative of football supporters.
If nothing else, I hope that Japanese supporters can develop the passion and madness these films have shown us; it shouldn’t be something left on the screen.
Tetsuichi Utsunomiya (Journalist, Photographer)
My standards for judging were based on three points: sense of presence, niche appeal, and love of the game. In that sense I didn’t emphasize technical aspects or extravagance. For example MESSI was an incredibly complete film boasting an incredible cast (what could Johan Cruyff’s appearance fee have been?), and in that sense it stands head and shoulders above the other six films shown at this festival. But in the end there’s little content that the average fan wasn’t aware of, and in that sense MESSI felt lacking (although I did enjoy Cruyff and Cesar Menotti’s interviews).
I can’t criticise You’ll Never’s niche appeal or the love it expressed for football, but its presence was lacking. Of course it was limited in terms of production time and various rights-related hurdles, and it succeeded in its effort to adapt a theatrical production. Even so, it lacked presence. But I don’t blame the filmmakers; instead we should focus on the J.League and the high hurdles it places on video rights. The league should absolutely make more of an effort to support film projects like this in the future.
Istanbul United and Sons of Ben, which I gave my highest scores to, may compare unfavorably to MESSI in a technical sense, but they achieved a perfect balance of the three points I originally mentioned. They’re both terrific documentaries with unique viewpoints and a cast of characters whom I’d love to drink and discuss football with. But the unprecedented idea of a supporter group existing before team led me to give the latter film the edge.
In any case, I’m thankful to the organizers for having been given the chance to see so many varied and wonderful football films in one place.
Football Critique Special Award
Directors: Farid Eslam, Oliver Waldhauer
2014 / Turkey / Documentary / 84 min
[Judging Committee Comments]
Tetsunari Mori (Football Critique Chief Editor)
This festival featured a lot of films which turned their lens on the people who surround football rather than the game itself, showing us the fascination of football as well as the madness it can inspire. Istanbul United moved me deeply in how it showed the pros and cons of football supporters. It’s a film that pulses with every word, demonstrating passion that continues to build.
Ichiro Enokido (Columnist)
I gave my highest score to the film with the most powerful image.
(Istanbul United) presented a message of soccer and football as social movements.
Unfortunately I wasn’t satisfied with the Japanese films in this festival.
Cesare Polenghi (Football Journalist)
This film taught me much about Turkish football!
“Yuluneva -You’ll never walk alone”
Director: Asahi Ueda
2015 / Japan / Drama, Comedy / 110min
Message from TIFFF: This award goes to the film which drew the most attendees to its screenings during the festival.
Trophies will be presented to the winning films at a later date.