It’s hard to fathom how an Irish left-back could bring the international career of a footballing great to an end but Robbie Brady’s last-gasp winner rang the death knell for Sweden’s talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimović. With a forthcoming domestic move to Manchester United reportedly on the cards, the timely release of Fredrik and Magnus Gertten’s tremendous biodoc Becoming Zlatan explores the early days of a global superstar from humble beginnings in Malmo, through a big money move to Ajax and on to Juventus where the true rise to fame and fortune took flight.
“My aim is to stay alive, I don’t want to die.” A plainly spoken objective from one subject of Juan Reina’s equally forthright, compelling and utterly breath-taking documentary Diving Into the Unknown, a stellar entry in Edinburgh’s Focus on Finland strand. Being buried alive often tops lists of most feared ways to die but perishing in the glacial water of caves a hundred metres below ground must be a close rival. It is a risk run by a team of daring Finnish divers navigating previously unexplored depths in northern Norway.
The subject matter of Carola Fuentes and Rafael Valdeavellano’s Chicago Boys is certainly worthy of documentary coverage but its narrow scope and dull presentation mean it is unlikely to appeal to many viewers other than students of financial history. Under the tutelage of Milton Friedman and Arnold Harberger, from the mid-1950s onwards groups of economists from the Pontifical Catholic University in Santiago travelled to Chicago’s School of Economics to learn better teaching methods in order that they be equipped with the means necessary to rescue their country from ruin.
A labour of love to rival that of Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, Brothers is a charming study of growing up, a preservation of memory and lessons learned from a mother to her own sons. Norwegian documentary filmmaker Aslaug Holm is lucky to have two such thoroughly likeable and comfortable subjects. Filmed from their infancy into adolescence, they are completely at ease being on camera – save from a few moments of irritation – and mature in front of our eyes.
Throughout much of The Islands and the Whales the rugged Faroe archipelago, jutting out of the sea with awe-inspiring majesty, is shrouded in low-hanging cloud and grey mist. A film that is jaw- dropping in its visual splendour, the choice to envelope the islands in this blanket of precipitation is a keen move by Scottish director Mike Day as it closes off the outside world, further isolating an already remote nation – located mid-way between the Hebrides and Iceland.
It would take a very hard-hearted soul not to well up a little upon seeing stalwart football commentator Jonathan Pearce recount, with tears in his eyes and half-time orange-sized lump in his throat, the last words he ever exchanged with the late, great Bobby Moore. Fans across the country may have endured half a century of hurt, the anguish of critical red cards and missed penalties, but Bobby tells the astronomical highs and many lows of a shy East End lad who knew the true meaning of fame through hard graft, and reaped both its rewards and ill-effects.
“About one in ten every ten years makes it out of here,” says a father exasperated by an errant, drug-peddling son. The outlook for young members of the White Earth Indian Reservation is crushingly bleak. From the outset of The Seventh Fire, the first feature length documentary from Jack Pettibone Riccobono, it’s bracingly candid in both tone and image.
Sifting through scrubland near an abandoned warehouse a man cradles the burnt remains of celluloid film stock and speaks of their destruction by the Taliban: “They burned the films. They killed them. They bled into the ground.” Like the lament of this eloquent subject, A Flickering Truth tells of the destruction of Afghan cinematic culture with a visual and lyrical language that, in remembering, rediscovering, and conserving the work of the Afghan Films Archive – led by Ibrahim Arify – stands as a vital example of maintaining cultural heritage for a fragile national identity.
It’s safe to say that Katharine Round and Gordon Gekko would not see eye to eye if asked whether greed was good. The British filmmaker’s subtly profound documentary, The Divide, laments the growing inequality between the super rich and all us plebs below them. Round’s film is yet another rallying cry for the masses to rage against the machine, but one which retains a sickening sense of history repeating itself.
Not too many men can sit by a campfire at night, look up at the moon and know that they once bounded across its chalky grey surface. Gene Cernan is one of only twelve lucky souls to have done so, leaving the final human footprints of the Apollo missions in its lunar dust. The Last Man on the Moon shines a light on a charismatic, courageous – some might say foolhardy – thrill seeker and spaceman…