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The 11mm film festival: touching films about the beautiful game

"Sur La Touche" and "Zweikämpfer" took the top honors at the 11mm Film Festival in Berlin. The awards were presented by Bundesliga players Naldo and Sebastian Langkamp.

Two World Cup winners, a Brazilian Bundesliga player and a hometown hero joined thousands of football fanatics at the 11mm Film Festival, which wrapped up in Berlin on Monday night.

Organizers said that around 4,000 people had attended the event, watching more than 70 football flicks between March 17 and 21, with features ranging from a documentary about England's controversial World Cup-winning goal in 1966 through to animated shorts about the experience of football fandom.

The festival wound up with the "Short Kicks" gala, which is traditionally one of the festival's highlights. A jury featuring German World Cup winners Thomas Berthold and Ariane Hingst , actors Eva Löbau and Heiko Pinkowski and Hertha Berlin's Sebastian Langkamp picked the French film "Sur La Touche" as the winner of the Short Kicks award.

"Sur La Touche" is a touching, comedic tale in which a Parisian couple wrestle with the impact of football on their relationship, with the female lead eventually won over by the beautiful game. Hingst, who gave the film the maximum three points, said it struck a chord with her.

"I thought they played with the cliches in a very sympathetic way and it was entertaining," she said. "It was funny and I really liked the way they did it. Of course in my career I faced some issues like that but it is getting less and less. I thought they played with it (the gender issue) in a good way."

DW pundit and a member of the German team that won the 1990 World Cup, Thomas Berthold, also gave the film full marks.

"The range of films was huge," he said. "Documentaries, films with real actors, it was a real spectrum but I went for the most emotional one, the one that won. I loved the story, there was good acting, a little comedy and it was a positive film."

Deutschland Berlin Thomas Berthold im Kinosaal

Football pundit turned film critic: Thomas Berthold

Golden 11

The other prize, the prestigious "Golden 11" award went to director Mehdi Benhadj-Djilali and his documentary "Zweikämpfer", which deals with unemployed footballers looking for their big break.

Benhadj-Djilali was presented with his award on Monday by Wolfsburg's Brazilian international Naldo, who took to the stage in a dazzling pair of glittered trainers. The center back, like his fellow defender Langkamp, was clearly enjoyed mingling with the crowd. Football fan Johannes Brattke, who watched seven films on Sunday alone, said there was a great atmosphere at the festival.

"It's nice to get a different view on football, a different perspective. I'm a film fan but I don't normally go to the cinema, so it's special for me to see so many films," Brattke said.

"Yesterday I saw one of the greatest football films I've seen. My favorite is "Damned United," but I also saw the "Summer of 92" about Denmark winning the European Championship, and it was perfect, I really loved it. I've spent all of today finding out where to buy it."

Despite the popularity of Naldo, one of the biggest cheers at the Babylon cinema in Germany's capital was reserved for Hertha Berlin's Sebastian Langkamp. The 28-year-old said he hadn't realized what a great cinematic subject the sport was.

Deutschland Berlin Gruppenfoto der Jury

Sebastian Langkampf (second from left), Thomas Berthold (third from left), Ariane Hingst (third from right), and Naldo (second from left)

"It's my first time here (at the festival) but I'd heard a lot about it and it's a great atmosphere," he said. "I was surprised at how many good films it's possible to make about soccer."

When the event started 13 years ago, many doubted how sustainable a film festival revolving around football would be, but Andreas Leimbach, one of the festival's managers, said the interest in the sport beyond the white lines was still growing.

"We're very happy with how it went," he said. "It's been a question of months to prepare but I think the quality has improved so much from the first year. Everyone expected us to only last for two or three years and they said there will be no more football films any more. But now, after 13 years, there are more football films than ever. I think this is a genre that almost invented itself."

Judging by the buzz of the crowd and the quality of filmmaking, it seems this genre of film can only get bigger and better.

DW's football show "Kick off!" teamed up with the 11mm festival three years ago and the partnership is still going strong. On Friday March 25th, Kick off! is proud to present a special feature on football in films. We tell the story of

Shmuel Rosenthal,

the first Israeli to play in the Bundesliga, who came back 43 years later for the screening of DW's "90 Minutes for Germany and Israel" in Berlin. The show is hosted by Thomas Berthold.

Broadcast times in your region here: dw.com/english/kickoff.

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