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'Bourne' Helmer Paul Greengrass To Direct Sports Documentary On F.C. Barcelona

by Oliver Lyttelton
May 17, 2012 8:39 AM
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Paul Greengrass Barca

Despite being the world's favorite sport, and gaining increasing traction in the U.S., the number of great films about soccer (or football, as those of us in the rest of the world accurately call it), can be counted on the fingers of no hands. From John Huston's "Escape To Victory" to the would-be-blockbuster trilogy "Goal," virtually every attempt to capture the beautiful game on screen has stumbled badly, even as seemingly less cinematic sports like baseball and golf end up driving a string of classics.

But it sounds like one of Hollywood's biggest A-list directors is about to try and crack the code, albeit in documentary form, as 24 Frames report that Paul Greengrass, the British helmer behind "The Bourne Supremacy" and "The Bourne Ultimatum," is planning to make a film on one of the world's most successful clubs, F.C. Barcelona. Entitled "Barca," the film will look at the Spanish club, who have won 21 league titles and four European Champions Leagues (most recently in 2011) in their 113-year history, and among their current star players boast Argentinean Lionel Messi, frequently labelled the most gifted footballer in the world right now.

Greengrass (who returns to non-fiction here, having started out his career making documentaries for British series "World In Action") has been given an all-access pass to the club, and intends to capture action both on the pitch and off it, planning a "Moneyball"-style look at the business side of the club too. And he's got an impressive team behind him: noted sports journalist John Carlin (who penned the book on which "Invictus" was based) is serving as a consultant and executive-producer, and the editor is Chris King, who deservedly won a BAFTA for his astonishing work on last year's hit sports documentary "Senna." Funding comes from Anonymous Content ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "Babel").

Greengrass is currently filming Somalian pirate drama "Captain Philips," with Tom Hanks, but intends to get rolling on "Barca" once he wraps up on that, and will document the team across the 2012-2013 season, with a release date targeted for 2014, which presumably means that his other prospective projects, including Martin Luther King biopic "Memphis" and Robert Harris adaptation "The Fear Index" are on hold for the moment. We're sure that Greengrass, a noted football fan himself (Chelsea are his team, we believe) will have the right passion for the game, and will bring his visceral filmmaking skills, so we're confident that he'll turn out a movie that appeals not just to sports obsessives, but also non-fans. 2014 can't come soon enough.

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  • G.T.O. | May 28, 2012 4:38 AMReply

    Looking forward to it!
    The Damned United was a good film about soccer..

  • Carson Wells | May 17, 2012 11:37 PMReply

    Sounds like the most boring movie ever.

  • Kob | May 17, 2012 11:44 AMReply

    Greengrass' team is Crystal Palace, not Chelsea.

    The sport itself has never been captured right on film, Looking for Eric was about fandom, Kes probably has the best football match I've seen in film.

  • bohmer | May 17, 2012 10:48 AMReply

    Zidane: Un portrait du XXIe siècle, is for me the quintessential football movie. Check it out!

  • Sandro | May 17, 2012 9:34 AMReply

    I thought Ken Loach's Looking for Eric captured the passion for the sport quite well.

  • mpbstereo | May 17, 2012 9:14 AMReply

    For priding yourselves on being part of the rest of the world that accurately calls the sport by its rightful name, it's disappointingly shameful that you would refer to FC Barcelona as a "Spanish" club; they are, first and foremost, a Catalan club, and prefer to be called as such.

  • mpbstereo | May 17, 2012 10:39 AM

    Right you are, but if The Playlist insists on the factual accuracy of naming conventions per location, it strikes me as lazy that they'd address the issue of "Soccer" vs. "Football" while failing to address the issue of "Spanish club" vs. "Catalan club." To take issue with the sport being called Soccer, but not with the team being identified as Spanish (when they identify themselves as Catalan, thus their team motto: "més que un club", which is in Catalan) is incongruous to me... In both issues, the perception of accuracy, as well as the importance of the issue itself, is contingent on where you might be in the world. I care less about calling the sport soccer or football or the club's actual provenance than I do about The Playlist writer in question being needlessly snide about the former and seemingly ignorant about the latter, on a shared premise of assumed worldly knowledge of the issue.

  • Claudia | May 17, 2012 9:21 AM

    Nonetheless, Barcelona is in Spain, so they're a Spanish football team. Plus, not everyone knows where Catalonia is. No one is against Barça being proud of being a Catalan club, but it's still Spain.

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