GUADALAJARA –Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Carlos Reygadas, Vincent Gallo, Gaspar Noe and Dorris Dorrie feature among 31 directors from four continents signed up for “Short Plays,” a soccer-themed omnibus production shot around the world and created by Mexican director Daniel Gruener (“All of Them Witches”).

Helmers also include Colombia’s Carlos Moreno, Mexico’s Fernando Eimbcke, Ecuador’s Sebastian Cordero, Brit Duane Hopkins, South Korea’s Yang Ik-june, Pablo Fendrik from Argentina, Uruguay’s Pablo Stoll, Chile’s Matias Cruz, Moroccan Faouzi Bensaidi, Italy’s Luca Lucini and Portugal’s Pedro Amorim.

“Short Plays” helmers have been set a few simple rules of engagement: Films should be three-to-five minutes long and largely dialogue free, offer an analogy to some aspect of soccer, but feature ordinary people from the director’s own country.

Repping Croatia, theater director Bobo Jelcic’s wedding-set short has the bride staging a jersey swop with the groom after the ceremony. Abner Benaim’s film records people in a cantina-bar in Panama waiting, like soccer substitutes on the bench, for something to happen. Offering a metaphor for the soccer foul, the short from Norway’s Rune Denstad Langlo turns on a bullied girl living in the country’s snowbound winter.

Palme d’Or winner Weerasethakul’s short is set in his home town, features 22 shots of its lake, almost the only recognizable feature from his childhood, which are arranged like players in a soccer game.  Turning on a game-changer, Bolivian Juan Carlos Valdivia short stars President Evo Morales.

Gruener will direct a short and team with Egyptian-Israeli actor Sammy Samir on a second, about the last game any country in the Middle East played against Israel –in 1974.

“The World Cup is probably the world’s biggest window of exposure. For me, it was rally interesting to come up with human stories that show us how people are living in the different regions and societies of the world. And that’s exactly what we’ve got,” Gruener said.

Also, “Short films is like a cinema World Cup. Not everybody has the chance to go to a film festival. This is a great opportunity to see some of the biggest talents in the world,” he added.

Apichatpong Weeransathul won Cannes Palme d’Or, Reygadas its best director plaudit last year. In all, said Ozcar Ramirez at Arte Mecanica, “Short Plays” will feature six winners at Cannes, four Sundance winners, and two at Berlin, Venice and San Sebastian.

Also in the mix are four distaff directors: Holland’s Mascha Halberstad (“Picnic With Pie”); Buthina Cannan Koury (“Taste the Revolution”) from Palestine; Japan’s Kiki Sugino, an actress-producer who has just turned director with “Manga niku to boku;” German helmer Dorris Dorrie.

Ready for delivery about the end of April before Brazil’s FIFA World Cup this June – Reygadas shot his piece this weekend in Mexico, for instance; about half the shorts are completed, Gruener said – “Short Plays” is set up at Mexico’s Arte Mecanica, GB and The Agency.

The producers are considering different options for distribution, Gruener said. These could take in theatrical play and DVD/Blu-ray outlets. Shorts will also be offered as a TV series of short films to broadcasters – especially those that have licensed World Cup transmission rights – for airing one a day, often when directors’ country plays a match, he added.

Univision has acquired U.S. rights to “Short Plays.” Other broadcast deals are under negotiations, Ramirez said.

“Any broadcaster which has ‘Short Plays’ will stand part from its competitors,” he argued.

“Short Cuts” also features three animation films: Doris Dorrie’s 2D hand-drawn pic; Halberstad’s stop-motion short; a mini 3D movie from Mexico’s Felipe Gomez Torres and Alejandro Valle.

Beyond their briefs, directors were given total creative freedom. Other directors preparing shorts include Eritrea’s Emnet Mulugueta, Greece’s Menelaos Karamaghiolis and Russian documentary filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky.