Weerasethakul, Reygadas, Noe, Gallo, Dorrie Link for ‘Short Cuts’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Soccer themed movie/TV series to be ready for World Cup

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.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Rounds

    Sarajevo Film Review: 'Rounds'

    Five features (plus a scattering of documentaries) into his career, leading Bulgarian writer-director Stephan Komandarev has resisted cultivating a clear thematic or stylistic throughline to his oeuvre. Yet his latest, the overnight police patchwork “Rounds,” feels surprisingly close to quintessential, pulling as it does plot points, structural models and tonal switches from his previous films [...]

  • Travis Scott Surprises Fans With Netflix

    Travis Scott Surprises Fans With Netflix Documentary Reveal, Pop-Up in Houston

    Travis Scott just revealed his new Netflix documentary in the most organic way possible: a social media post to his 18.5 million followers on Instagram. The photo consisted of him holding a series of VHS tapes, which turns out to be the trailer for his forthcoming documentary on Netflix titled “Look Mom I Can Fly.” [...]

  • Overcomer

    Film Review: 'Overcomer'

    No matter the setting or circumstances, the solution to every dilemma found in Christian Evangelical films is getting closer to God. That certainly holds true with regards to “Overcomer,” the latest bit of bigscreen proselytizing by writer-director-star Alex Kendrick (“War Room,” “Courageous”). The story of a high school basketball coach who’s forced to take over [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Inside the Spider-Man Split: Finger-Pointing and Executive Endgames

    Spider-Man’s neighborhood has been decidedly unfriendly this week. A private and contentious battle over the onscreen future of the beloved Marvel superhero has spilled out into the public square over the past few days. After making nice for two wildly successful films, Sony Pictures, which holds the licensing rights to the Marvel character, will go [...]

  • Variety Announces 10 Actors to Watch

    Variety Announces 10 Actors to Watch for 2019

    Variety has announced its 10 Actors to Watch for 2019, an honor the publication has bestowed since 1998. Past honorees include many future Oscar winners and nominees, such as Mahershala Ali, Timothée Chalamet, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Brie Larson, Lupita Nyong’o and Melissa Leo. This year’s honorees will be feted in the Oct. 27 issue of [...]

  • August Maturo

    Film News Roundup: August Maturo to Star in Horror Movie 'Slapface'

    In today’s film news roundup, August Maturo gets a starring role and “Death of Me” and “Fatale” find homes. CASTING “Girl Meets World” star August Maturo has been cast as the lead character in the upcoming indie horror feature, “Slapface.” Maturo will play a boy who deals with the loss of his mother by creating [...]

  • Taron Egerton, Lucy Boynton to Star

    Taron Egerton, Lucy Boynton to Star in Virtual Reality Project 'Glimpse'

    Taron Egerton and Lucy Boynton will star in “Glimpse,” a new virtual reality experience that will be unveiled at the Venice Film Festival. Written and directed by Benjamin Cleary and VR creator Michael O’Connor, “Glimpse” will be entered in the Venice Virtual Reality Interactive showcase. It’s set in the imaginative mind of a heartbroken panda, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content