Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz are first to take a Caribbean soccer team to the FIFA Women’s World Cup Championship Competition.
Rated amongst the world’s best soccer players from the Caribbean, the women are on the world-stage to test their mettle against the best kickers, headers and scorers to play the sport.
But their male counterparts were first to compete and qualified in 1997 to represent the island and region as Reggae Boyz.
Now a film of the same title documents the journey recently premiered at the 22nd annual Brooklyn Film Festival where it won the audience award for best documentary feature.
The film had a European premiere in 2018 and was first nominated for best documentary at the Krakow Film Festival.
Later the film screened at the German Television Awards.
The feel-good, inspirational flick was produced by Iranian Sara Nodjoumi and written and directed by Germany’s Brooklyn-based Till Schauder.
Together with Partner Pictures they are now exalting the glory of the team that stalled crime on the island and allegedly on the day the team qualified may have been responsible for the fact there was not a single report of any criminal activity.
Small wonder perhaps but the national support buoyed diasporic enthusiasm akin to the 1988 Olympic qualification that resonated with “Cool Runnings” association of a united and spirited willingness exhibited by the country’s bobsled team during the Winter Olympics to excel despite the odds.
Music and comedy are the bonuses of the 75-minute feature that incorporates a charismatic, funny German coach named Winfried “Winnie” Schafer and a reggae band named NoMaddz. Together they liven the action and even if soccer is not your game, the film will endear enlightenment.
Talk is key to the development and Bunny Wailer, Bob Marley’s original collaborator offers nuff chat. So does guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith who admittedly is not a fan of the game but willing expound on his lack of appreciation for watching a game that compels players to chase a ball into a goalkeeper’s space.
The sole surviving Wailer is colorful and boastful in his explanation of a time in his youth that he played the game.
More explicitly though he is even more explicit when explaining how cannabis enhances the sport.
Winnie, a virgin herbalist seems totally enthralled by the weed and its attributes but as a foreigner and newcomer to the wonders must listens attentively to the veteran advocate.
Schafer is purposeful and dedicated to a mantra that sustains Jamaicans — “we little but we tallawah.”
With that sense of purpose “Reggae Boyz” won respect and Schnauder certainly amplified the can do persistence displayed to world viewers.
Both Schnauder and Nodjoumi attended the Brooklyn premiere and together they provided verbal testimonies of their time spent on the island.
Since then they have taken their prizewinner from Tribeca to Cannes, and from Washington D.C. to Paris for screenings at the Lucerne Film Festival and the DC Caribbean Film Fest.
“Reggae Boyz” begin and end with upful optimism that prolongs the journey from island favorite to global contenders in a sport the world regards with Olympic pride, unyielding loyalty and unrivaled athletic skill.
The German director actually moved in with a member of the cast in order to capture the day-to- day activities of his subject. It’s something of a tradition he has incorporated in his film direction. Call it charm or just plain candid filmography, Till and his lens take up residency and in no time becomes invisible as his subjects routinely function.
Like a shadow he follows local amateur, star Tuffy Anderson who makes his living from being a welder.
He also rises early to accompany the leader of Nommadz as he stretches to exercise on the beach.
And while much of the preparations take place on the island, audiences are also treated to out of town games in Panama and other places.
Audiences already know the score, the quest to win did not minimize the will despite the outcome.