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Film

11 of our favorite football films

During the knockout round of Euro 2016, we're faced with a few game-less evenings. To fill the time, here are 11 of our favorite football movies for anyone who can't go a day without the sport.

A Soccer Team in Victory by John Huston Copyright: Mary Evans Picture Library

"Victory" by John Huston was a legendary soccer film starring Pelé

In France, the preliminary round of the European Championship is coming to an end. That means we have a short break before the knockout round starts on Saturday (26.06.2016). Still need a football fix on those matchless evenings? Here are some of our favorite soccer movies to fill the gap.

"The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick,"by Wim Wenders (Germany, 1971), is a rather spartan film about the last man on the field. While Wenders has described the movie as his debut, it also marked his breakthrough. The story itself is quite sad: After having been thrown out as a result of a foul, a goalkeeper wanders around Vienna, where he ends up committing a murder. Co-written by Peter Handke, the film strikes viewers with its calmness and laconism - qualities that good goalkeepers should adopt.

A flm scene in Nordkurve by Adolf Winkelmann Copyright: picture-alliance/KPA

Viewers watching a game in "Nordkurve" by Adolf Winkelmann

There are two particularly tough films about soccer fans that shouldn't be missed, namely"Ultra"by Ricky Tognazzi (Italy, 1990) and "Nordkurve"(North Curve) by Adolf Winkelmann (Germany, 1993). The problem of hooliganism isn't restricted to this year's Euro Cup, as Tognazzi's film reveals. The Italian director focused on the ultras of the Rome-based club AS Roma, which give the Juventus Turino fans a severe beating. At the 1991 Berlin International Film Festival, the film was awarded a Silver Bear. Two years later, Adolf Winkelmann received the German Film Prize for Best Director for his soccer film"Nordkurve,"which takes a critical look at the football scene in Germany's industrial Ruhr region, including fans and managers, players and their wives.

A film scene of Gregory's Girl by Bill Forsyth, 1981 Copyright: picture-alliance/Mary Evans Picture Library

A decision between soccer and girls in "Gregory's Girl"

"Fimpen"by Bo Widerberg (Sweden, 1973) and "Gregory's Girl"by Bill Forsyth (Britain, 1981) are both light and exhilarating entertainment. In "Fimpen,"a little boy stirs up the Swedish national team, and enjoys more success than Zlatan Ibrahimovic has had in France. In "Gregory's Girl"by Scotsman Bill Forsyth, a teenager is moderately successful at soccer, but also dreams of other things - namely, girls. Soccer and love do not always match up.

"Escape to Victory," or just "Victory"by John Huston (USA, 1981) is set in occupied France during World War II. In a Nazi-run prisoners' camp, a match is organized between German soldiers, and British and American prisoners of war. "Victory"is not exactly a highlight in the brilliant career of American star director John Huston, but which other soccer film can pride itself in having soccer legend Pelé among its stars?

Emir Kusturica and Diego Maradona walking on the red carpet during the Cannes Film Festival 2008 Copyright: Getty Images/G. Cattermole

Director Emir Kusturica and star player Diego Maradona attended the premiere of "Maradona"

In "Maradona" (France, 2008), eccentric Serbian director Emir Kusturica features Argentinean soccer idol Diego Maradona, a player who could likely single-handedly take on a whole opposing team. Far beyond both Pelé and Maradona, "The Other Final,"by Johan Kramer (Netherlands/Japan, 2003), is a rather quiet film focusing on two of the lowest ranking national teams in the world, namely Bhutan and Montserrat. They played against each other on June 30, 2002, the same day Germany played against Brazil during the World cup in Brazil. Bhutan won 4:0. But what certainly counted much more was that the game helped improve relations between the two countries.

Not a single woman is among the crowd streaming into the football stadium in Offside Copyright: picture-alliance/kpa

Only men are permitted in the stadium in "Offside"

"Offside," by Jafar Panahi (Iran, 2006), has been banned in Iran. In the film, director Jafar Panahi shows women and girls trying to get into a stadium in order to watch a World Cup football match - which is strictly forbidden due to their sex. Panahi's film is both lovely and razor-sharp.

Once again, Bhutan! "The Cup,"by Khyentse Norbu, is a Bhutanese-Australian co-production from 1999. Norbu is not only a director, but also a monk, and shows in his film that football and spirituality are compatible with each other. His main protagonist wears a Ronaldo jersey underneath his frock.

A monk walking across a green field in The Cup shows that also football can profit from quietude Copyright: picture-alliance/Bild: NDR/BR/Telepool

"The Cup" by Khyentse Norbu shows that meditation can be useful also in football

In "Hothead," by Jean-Jacques Annaud (France, 1979), French actor Patrick Dewaere plays the luckless footballer Francois Perrin. He gets involved in the criminal ploys of a provincial club. But there is a happy end with Perrin shooting two goals, liberating himself from the bonds of the managers.

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