We’ve recently heard of a new film making its way around the festival circuit: Goals for Girls: A Story of Women with Balls. It’s a documentary about women’s and girls’ soccer in Argentina by filmmakers Ginger Gentile and Gabriel Balanovsky of San Telmo productions. The website’s tagline says: “In Buenos Aires most infamous slum, rules are being broken: girls are daring to play soccer.”
The opening seconds of the trailer tell us that “In Argentina anyone can play football [soccer]. Unless you are a woman.” The film reveals prevalent and common attitudes about the inferiority of women’s soccer, interviewing people and asking the if they’ve ever watched it and what they think about it.
The main storyline, however, is about women and girls who defy the rules and play anyway. Just claiming space on the field is a political statement for these girls, sometimes requiring them to lie down on the field until the boys will move aside so that the girls can practice and play.
On their website, the filmmakers say:
Already, Goals for Girls has begun to change the lives of its protagonists, and it can help change the lives of girls around the world. There are almost no documentaries about female soccer, and few documentaries are aimed at motivating young people to affect positive change. Goals for Girls is the Hoop Dreams of female soccer, but instead of focusing on financial dreams it will show how sport can help girls overcome incredible odds, teaching the value of responsibility and teamwork. Our documentary does not portray young women as victims, but as active participants to change the world around them, one match at a time.
The filmmakers are attempting to raise funds so that 1000 girls (including those in the film) and their families who would not otherwise be able to afford it can attend a screening of the film in a theatre. Many of these girls have never seen a film in a theatre before, and the filmmakers are committed to making that possible for them.
I recently had a chance to correspond with Ginger Gentile about the film’s reception in Argentina and the initiative to get the girls to the movies. Here is what she said:
Tracy: What neighborhoods will you be focusing on and who will be invited to see the film (how do you plan to select the girls)?
Ginger: Our first priority is to get all the girls who play on teams that appear in the movie and who come from low income levels to see it (we interview some middle class teams, and they can get to the cinema on their own). The team that is the center of the film had about 20 girls on it when we filmed them, now there are more than 60! so if each girl brings a few family members, we are almost at 200. After that we will focus on other teams from the same neighborhood, the Villa 31 shantytown, and then other shantytowns in Buenos Aires. It is very important that each girl brings at least one family member so her experience can be validated in her community. With 1000 tickets we can cover most young female players from low-income areas in Buenos Aires. If we go beyond that we will be able to focus on players from outside of Buenos Aires as well.
Tracy: You said many have never been to a theatre — what do you think it will mean to them to see a film like this on the big screen?
Ginger: I think that every day these girls are exposed to two types of degrading images: one of women as sexy and passive and the other of slum dwellers being thieves and criminals. Getting them to see girls like them being active, playing as a team and being comfortable with their bodies–no matter what people say–will be very powerful. And sharing this film with their families will mean that a debate will take place in their homes regarding who does chores, use of free time , etc.
Tracy: What kind of reception has the film received so far — it’s clearly an uphill battle for women’s soccer to gain respect in a country that loves football as much as Argentina does?
Ginger: Reception in Argentina has been positive–a lot of press and also the film was selected for Good Pitch Buenos Aires 2013. Good Pitch is an event that brings together documentaries with supporters from the public and private sector to see how they can work together to use films as part of larger campaigns. It is a film that gets people´s attention. Mujeres con pelotas is a word play which like in english can mean ball, testicals and courage. As people are so passionate about football two things happen: some women come up to us and tell us their stories about fighting to play and others tell us that they are surprised that there is such a thing as women´s football.
Tracy: And of course, what can people do who are interested in helping the cause?
Ginger: If people want to help us take 1000 girls to the movies to see Goals for Girls they can donate via our crowdfunding campaign on idea.me until september 14th
There are some great prizes as well.
We would love to get connected with female soccer players and coaches from the US and Europe who want to participate in the diffusion campaign.
They can also contact us if they want to show the film in a festival or school or university.
our facebook page Goalsforgirlsthemovie will be getting more active in the coming months and is a great place to stay updated.
As we are independent filmmakers, any help is much appreciated.
The trailer makes me really want to see the film! Please help spread the word. Meanwhile, here’s the trailer.