New to VOD this week:
MEN IN THE ARENA
St Louis, Mexico International
A portrait of two Somali professional soccer players.
Against the backdrop of a civil war raging for decades, Somalia was further destabilized in the 2000s by the rise of radical groups like al-Shabaab, a terrorist organization linked to al-Qaeda which banned sports and the arts until they were pushed out of the capital, Mogadishu. Growing up in the shadow of conflict, young friends Saadiq and Sa’ad try to realize their soccer dreams and show a different side of Somalia to the world. Saadiq is a rising star playing in the Kenyan premiere league who receives the opportunity of a lifetime: a chance at an education in the US and recruitment by an American professional team. His friend Sa’ad, unfortunately, doesn’t fare as well, confined to Somalia as he struggles to make ends meet. Biersmith aims for the hopeful and inspirational, but the film struggles to find the proper balance between its two protagonists – Sa’ad’s story just doesn’t carry equivalent weight in comparison with Saadiq’s more compelling trajectory.