Review: ‘Bush League’

Entertaining, educational and immersive pic scores as both a sports docu and an ethnographic study.

Scoring not just as a sports docu but as an ethnographic study, Cy Kuckenbaker’s “Bush League” is an entertaining, educational and immersive pic that portrays life in the Malawian village of Zolokere through a look at the ups and downs of its soccer team, the Tony Bombers. Shooting and cutting the film himself, Kuckenbaker catches plenty of action, from fiery debates over game play to the everyday struggles of villagers to deal with the specter of HIV/AIDS. If anything, “Bush League” is more interested in Southeast African culture than in soccer, which will frustrate some viewers and stimulate many others.

Shown losing their first game on a ref’s controversial ruling, the Bombers are sponsored by the U.S. Peace Corps, whose hotheaded rep Jake Wilson is building a school in a neighboring village that has its own soccer team. Rivalry between these two clubs is fierce and seems to sandwich Wilson in an uncomfortable middle. The docu’s other indelible subjects include the Bombers’ captain, Chatwa, an economically indebted farmer of maize and tobacco, and its head cheerleader, Jacklyn, an AIDS activist fighting both the disease and its stigmatized status.

Bush League


Produced by Cy Kuckenbaker, Gregory J. Wilson. Directed, edited by Cy Kuckenbaker.


Camera (color, DV), Kuckenbaker. Reviewed on DVD, Vancouver, Oct. 7, 2010. (In Vancouver Film Festival.) Running time: 80 MIN.


Vitumbiko Jacklyn Khunga, Songwe "Chatwa" Nyimbiri, Jake Wilson, Mlawa Khunga. Narrator: Cy Kuckenbaker. (English, Malawian dialogue)
Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety