If you are a sports fan you likely remember where you were on June 23, 2010 when Landon Donovan scored an extra time winner against Algeria to push the United States Men's National Team to the knockout stage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Local filmmakers Ashwin Chaudhary and Jon Korn will never forget it either. See, they were in South Africa shooting a documentary when Donovan scored that dramatic goal. Since that glorious June day Chaudhary and Korn have been working on a film documenting their experiences following the US team in South Africa.
On February 2nd they'll screen their film, titled LADUMA, at the Ritz East. A portion of the proceeds from the tickets sold will go towards the Son's of Ben Help Kick Hunger initiative.
In anticipation of the screening I had the opportunity to interview Chaudhary. The story behind the film is fascinating. If you are a fan of sports and sports documentaries then this is a must see. The trailer for the film and the interview are after the Jump.
Q: Can you describe what the movie is about? Did you arrive in South Africa with a a storyline in mind?
A: LADUMA is the parallel stories of the American experience at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, and the host country's journey from Apartheid to hosting the world's biggest party. Co-director Jon Korn and I spent the year before the World Cup traveling with U.S. supporters on the intense Qualifying journey, visiting places like Mexico City and Honduras. Then in 2010, we both left our jobs, packed our bags, and departed for Johannesburg with no budget and no script, simply hoping to see the USA make history at the World Cup and capture the experience on camera.
Q: What was South Africa like? What stood out about the host country and people? Was there a sense that the country was showcasing the progress it's made post-apartheid?
A: Our second night in the country, we met 2 black South African guys our age while shooting pool at a bar in Joburg. Leeroy and Zem quickly became our friends and guides, and inspired the South African story in the film. Through their eyes, we quickly realized the magnitude of this event for their nation, and how truly humbling it was for them to be hosting people from all over the world. South African society is still comprised of a wealthy class and an extremely poor class living side-by-side, but for this one month, everyone was united in celebration. Despite the disappointing performance of Bafana Bafana (the South African national team), the 2010 World Cup felt like a culmination of everything that country had been through culturally and politically for hundreds of years.
Q: The trailer features ESPN soccer personalities Alexi Lalas, Bob Ley, and the voice of Ian Darke. How did you have access to the ESPN people and audio?
A: After the World Cup, our friends the American Outlaws supporter group helped us contact Alexi Lalas, who represented our nation at the 1994 World Cup, and has experienced the growth of American soccer as a supporter, player, MLS team GM, and TV analyst. Alexi was down to do an interview for the film, as was Bob Ley, who I contacted via Facebook (thanks, social media!). Bob invited us to Bristol, CT. to do his interview, and insisted that we contact Ian Darke about using his epic call of Landon Donovan's goal. Everyone was into our idea and wanted to be a part of it.
Q: What do you want people to take away from your film?
A: The word "LADUMA" itself means "GOAL!" and carries a sense of achievement. The meaning is two-fold for our film; it represents the achievement of USA winning the Group in dramatic fashion, and it represents South Africa rising up from the ashes of Apartheid to host this global celebration. What sets LADUMA apart from other documentaries is that it's not focused on just one person. It's the experience of several people, from the wild parties at Nelson Mandela square to the kids playing street soccer in the townships. Mostly, this film is OUR experience from the World Cup.
Q: Why soccer? What is it about the game that inspires you to make films documenting the sport and the fans who follow it?
A: Soccer extracts a passion from people that other sports can't; it's really at another level. The notion of "support" in soccer transcends what it means to be a "fan" in other sports. In the NBA, you have Justin Bieber playing on the speakers as the team dribbles up court; in baseball, fans only cheer "Charge!" when prompted by the PA announcer. In soccer, the noise and intensity is 100% authentic. Supporting your club is more than just chanting "Let's Go [insert team name]" when your team is in front; it's about singing and chanting for the full 90 minutes, no matter the score.
Q: How did growing up as a Philadelphia sports fan inform your sports and film sensibility?
A: Philly is an underdog town. We have that chip on our shoulder and relish proving our doubters wrong. Our whole lives, Jon and I grew up dreaming of a parade down Broad Street (until 2008... thanks, Phils!).. The US Men's Soccer team is the same way - an underdog on the World's stage. Our project's name - One Goal - represents that dream of someday winning the World Cup. It's no wonder the Philadelphia Union has been such a huge success - Philly is wired for soccer support.
Q: If you could make a film about any Philadelphia sport or athlete who or what would it be?
A: Maybe in a year, the story of the 2013 Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. But for right now, it would have to be the Michael Vick story. What he did was so awful, and his complete turnaround has been so stunning, that it would make for a fascinating documentary.
Q: Why should people go see this film?
A: This film is FOR supporters, BY supporters. It’s not just about one person, but about several. It’s about a sub-culture of American sports that doesn’t get enough exposure. People who aren’t soccer fans should see this movie because it might show them why this sport is so great, and how “support” beats “fandom” any day of the week. After seeing LADUMA, people should spread the word so that one day, the U.S. Men’s soccer team can fill an entire stadium with supporters cheering on the Stars and Stripes.
Q: Any parting thoughts?
A: If you want to see soccer grow in America, come see LADUMA at the Ritz East in Philly on February 2nd, and help us get the word out about this film. Social media can do big things, so “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter (@OneGoalUSA), and share our film trailer. We want the Philadelphia screening to launch our 2012 screening tour, and social media support will help us fill theater seats across the country. We’re just getting started, and the Road to Brazil 2014 is right around the corner. Philly is the best sports city in America, and February 2nd will be a great night for the Beautiful Game in the City of Brotherly Love.
Photo Credits: Jim Brown-US PRESSWIRE, Brian Snyder/Reuters