Zico came to Iceland from Marocco to seek his fortune. After ten years Zico becomes bankrupt, meaning he can't work anymore. Left desperate and depressed Zico decides to bring life to his amateur team called Africa United and take them into the semi-professional 3rd division. He calls upon immigrants all-over Iceland, players from Marocco, Nigeria, Columbia, Serbia, Kosovo, Gambia and Guinea to help realize his vision. Written by
Johannesson, Olaf de Fleur
Enjoyable, upbeat documentary, but is there foul play at foot?
I saw Africa United as part of the Nordisk Panorama documentary competition as was left slightly confused and suspicious on a number of points.
On IMDb it's listed in the genre of comedy but it is a self professed documentary. I have not seen any review or information on this film other than the general blurb provided by the filmmakers, but I found this 'documentary' had a very contrived and unrealistic vibe. I felt that many of the scenes had been staged and were seemingly based around some sort of script, insomuch that the players new where each scene was heading. Of course these are actual people so there were moments of genuine reality in there, but far too few. The fact the director Ólafur Jóhannessón also took a screenplay credit would also suggest this documentary's credibility is questionable.
This is not criticism per se, the film was excellently made and was engaging, but I found myself distracted by this mis-trust, constantly analyzing scenes for tell-tale acting gestures, which I found a lot of. Indeed if this were to re-label itself as a mockumentary of sorts, then I would have enjoyed it a great deal more, as it is a nice uplifting story with many funny moments. It is more a question of can this be classed as a documentary.
This film is part of a new wave of artificial documentaries, such as Supersize Me, where an ideal story is thought up before production thus compromising its integrity. These filmmakers have too much time and money at stake in the films success to leave it up to fate, and through clever editing and a slight bending of the truth they reach their pre-planned destinations. The director himself admits this, saying that he wanted the film to follow the 'Rocky formula' and 'making the material fit into that structure- was a big task'.
Overall I left the cinema feeling like I'd been cheated, further compounded by my fellow viewers, as they were all of the opinion that it was all completely factual and honest. But that all said I did enjoy the film, and the 80 mins went by quickly enough. If you have a particular interest in football or have ever played in a local 'pub-team' league (which I have) I would definitely give this a shot.
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