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Mia San Mia premiere: The Bayern Munich 'family' get-together

Those who don't support them often find it hard to admire Bayern Munich. But at the premiere of new DW documentary 'The Mia San Mia phenomenon' a sense of unity felt across the globe emerged.

Rafa Noboa y Rivera and Camila Borborema had never met before Tuesday. They come from different countries and speak different languages. But they're both spending their evening talking about one thing. Bayern Munich.

The pair, from New York and Rio respectively, have joined hundreds of people at the Babylon Kino in Berlin for the premiere of the film and are among those whose stories are told on the big screen.

The documentary traces the impact of Germany's biggest club on fans, players, officials, journalists, coaches and footballing hopefuls from around the globe and turns the microscope on the phrase that defines it, Mia San Mia - which roughly translates to 'We are who we are'.

DW_Mia_18 (DW/J.Röhl)

Former Bayern players Klaus Augenthaler, Franz Roth and Hansi Pflügler join Mia San Mia's directors Manuel Vering, left, and Niels Eixler, second from the right.

For Camila, that meant being a little different. "A lot of people don't understand," she said of her support for the German champions. "They say 'Oh, you don't like Brazil.' I do like Brazil but I also like FC Bayern. A lot of them asked me about the Germany v Brazil 7-1 (in the 2014 World Cup) and I said I am crying for Brazil but I still support Bayern."

As she and Rafa stood up from their seats by way of introduction ahead of the opening shots of the film, they received a raptorous reception from the rest of the audience. It was a response that matched that afforded to Klaus Augenthaler, Franz Roth and Hansi Pflügler  - Bayern stalwarts with multiple domestic and European titles to their names.

For many of the people packed in to the plush seats of the Babylon, and for most of those represented on the silver screen in front of them, that equality between players and fans sums it up.

During a particularly emotional section, former Bayern defender Sammy Kuffour opens up about the death of his young daughter and how the club, and in particular president Uli Hoeness, allowed him to use a private jet to fly to and from his native Ghana. He likens a club often perceived as arrogant and aloof to a family.

DW_Mia_73 (DW/J.Röhl)

Bayern fans Rafael Noboa, living in New York, and Camila Borborema from Rio de Janeiro are two of the documentary's protagonists.

Manuel Vering, who co-directed the film with Nils Eixler, said that sense of togetherness that went beyond football was a theme that was never far from the surface throughout the making of the piece. 

"I think if you have a big English football club like Manchester United or Arsenal they have fans abroad and of course all of them will say it's a family. But FC Bayern is the team which really acts as a family the most," he said.

"They really care about their old players, they keep them busy and give them contracts as legends. And if anything bad happens - Sammy Kuffour is one example but there are a lot of others - they will protect their players and do more than their duty."

It's also something that has had a big impact on Rafa's life. When he moved back to New York after a long time away, helping to set up the Bayern fan club in the Big Apple was one of his first ports of call. He says matchday mornings in a bar with 50 or 60 other stateside Bayern fans have an atmosphere and a camaraderie that would've been hard to imagine when he first got in to the game.

The Puerto-Rican born systems administrator explains that the small amount of kids that were in to football in his hometown all followed Italian clubs, as was the fashion at the time. He says the experience of being the only Bayern fan helped him identify with the club's motto.

"It became a very particular point of pride for me not to jump on the bandwagon. It ties in with Mia San Mia, they are who they are and I see that."

Videostill DW Sendung Mia san mia Ulli Hoeneß (DW)

Mia San Mia features exclusive interviews with several Bayern figureheads, including club president Uli Hoeness.

As football has grown in popularity and marketability, so clubs like Bayern have done the same. In the film, the likes of Philipp Lahm, Oliver Kahn and Honess discuss what that has meant for an outfit that was once predominantly a Bavarian concern. It's a subject easily relateable to a diverse crowd.

As the filmgoers linger in the lobby before streaming out in to the crisp night air of Berlin, there's still really only one topic on everyone's lips, and it's still Bayern Munich.

But unlike in the pubs of Bavaria or the walkway to the Allianz Stadium, it's not so much about the replacements for Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, or the rights and wrongs of Carlo Ancelotti's sacking, it's about where you can watch Bundesliga games at 9 in the morning and the feeling of following a club from afar.

Mia San Mia may be translated to slightly different phrases in different languages, but for Rafa, Camila and many others in Berlin on Tuesday night, its meaning was abundantly clear.

You can watch the documentary here:

Watch video 89:53

The Mia san Mia Phenomenon — FC Bayern, an international success story

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