MORELIA, Mexico – “Chivas – the Movie,” the first full-length feature documentary about Mexico’s 112-year old Chivas soccer team held its world premiere Thursday, Oct. 25, at the 16th Morelia Int’l Film Festival. Chivas fans, some wearing the iconic red and white striped Chivas jerseys, crowded the Cinepolis theatre complex in downtown Morelia to cheer their heroes on the red carpet.
Co-directed by Ivan Lopez-Barba and Ruben R. Bañuelos, “Chivas” bows Nov. 23 on 150 screens via Cinepolis’ specialized content label +Quecine, which releases docus, music, cultural and sporting events on select screens across Mexico.
“Chivas de Guadalajara is the most popular soccer team in Mexico and because of its history and its wins, being a team comprised of solely Mexican players makes it emblematic of our times,” said Marco Garcia, manager of +QueCine, Latin America. “It’s an inspiring film, with great motivational power,” he added.
“Chivas – The Movie” is the first producing gig of Amaury Vergara, the son of Guadalajara-based Mexican billionaire Jorge Vergara, the docu’s co-executive producer, who also owns the Chivas team and whose shingle, Anhelo Prods., produced Alfonso Cuaron’s acclaimed coming-of-age drama “Y Tu Mama Tambien” and co-produced Guillermo Del Toro’s “The Devil’s Backbone,” among others.
“Chivas – The Movie” covers the 2016-2017 period when the Chivas ‘Futbol’ team made a historic comeback – after a 10-year losing streak – to clinch the Liga MX trophy. Credit goes to their then coach Matias Almeyda who instilled a new discipline related not only to their physical training but also their mental acuity and emotional well-being.
Filmed over the course of a year, mainly on weekends when the team played, the $1 million docu also goes behind the scenes to show glimpses of the player’s lives, many from impoverished backgrounds, and their combined struggles to become Mexico’s number one team. “It also explores what Chivas means to Mexico, to the world of soccer,” said Vergara.
Talks are underway with U.S. and Canadian distributors. The docu marks its U.S. debut as the closing night film of FICG in LA, an extension of the Guadalajara Int’l Film Fest in Los Angeles, on Oct. 28. “While around 95% of Chivas’ fan base resides in Mexico, about 4% are in the U.S.,” Vergara pointed out.
For the 31-year old, who was named VP and CEO of Omnilife-Chivas Group this year, making “Chivas” is part of his lifelong ambition to become a filmmaker.
When in his late teens, he complemented his studies at the New York Film Academy by working as a gofer for Del Toro on “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Devil’s Backbone” as well as for Cuaron on “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” and “Y Tu Mama Tambien.”
“I discovered more about filmmaking while on set than I could ever learn at film school, that’s for sure,” said Vergara, who cites Del Toro as his greatest inspiration for the dystopian, horror, suspense films he wants to make, if his new responsibilities allow him.
Vergara also helped spearhead the launch of subscription channel, Chivas TV, which came about when renewal talks with its longtime broadcasting partner of 22 years, Televisa, fell through in 2016.
“We launched our own digital channel in 40 days, and the response was overwhelming; we were considered pioneers,” said Vergara.
Chivas have since renewed their deal with Televisa since the summer of 2017 but they now own and control the digital rights to their games. To broaden its base, Chivas TV keeps its subscription fee low to 100 pesos ($5) a month but hopes to eventually lower it to 10 pesos (50 cents), per Vergara.
While Chivas TV offers mostly live games via VOD, plans are afoot to show past matches. Perhaps even ‘Chivas – the Movie” will air on it eventually.