A subject bursting with potential — the Austrian homeless soccer team competing at the 2008 Homeless World Cup in Australia — gets mediocre treatment in helmer Huseyin Tabak’s protracted docu “Kick Off,” his Vienna Film Academy graduation project. Focusing on three of the eight players on the national team bound for Melbourne, the digressive pic makes a lot of first-timer mistakes; most glaringly, it lacks editing balance and momentum. Nevertheless, the human-interest appeal of the once down-and-out men overcoming their addictions and recovering their pride led to theatrical exposure at home and might score further fest and ancillary action.
The subjects’ backstories emerge awkwardly as they’re shown at practice, in family situations and in intimate conversation with the camera. Turkish-born Serkan Yavuz and Orhan Yildirim (the most articulate) both rebelled against their strict families, got mixed up with the wrong crowd and wound up serving jail time. Shy sanitation worker Hansi Kovac overcame drug and alcohol addictions in order to be a full-time parent to his young daughter. In Melbourne, Tabak gives the men’s self-indulgent antics as much screen time as the more exciting game footage. HD tech package is merely OK.