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Baghdad Messi vs. Gay Hooligans

Matthias FrickelApril 1, 2014

As jury members at the 11mm football film festival in Berlin, the Brazilian Bundesliga stars Naldo and Ronny chose the best short flms of the season. "I love Hooligans" beat out "Baghdad Messi."

11mm Festival
Image: DW/Manuel Vering

Two Brazilian stars of the Bundesliga were sitting on the jury for best short film of the season at Berlin's 11mm football film festival on Monday night. And their winner is: "I love Hooligans", with "Baghdad Messi" taking the runners-up spot.

You could tell by the slightly nervous way that Wolfsburg's Naldo and Berlin's Ronny entered the arena at the Babylon Cinema that they are used to an altogether different kind of spotlight. But this appearance was for "Shortkicks", part of the 11th edition of the 11mm international football film festival where instead of the red carpet organisers roll out a welcoming strip of lush green turf.

During the five-day festival, fans are treated to 60 football films from all over the world, with the climax on the penultimate evening traditionally being the presentation of the season's best short films. A panel of film critics, festival organisers and directors was reinforced this year with two of the hardest-hitting marksmen in the German topflight - Naldo and Ronny. And when it came to picking out the "Shortkick" of the season, the Brazilian duo proved their aim is also true off the pitch.

Three points for 'I Love Hooligans'

Ronny showed his nose for a winner when he chose this animated documentary as his favorite: "I gave 'I love Hooligans' three points because I think it is a very tough issue that was dealt with in a very impressive way." The winning film by Dutch director Jan-Dirk Bouw tells the story of a hooligan who has to hide from his friends the fact that besides his club, he also loves men. Fellow Bundesliga pro Naldo was equally impressed: "When it comes to talking about homosexuality and football there are still big obstacles, especially in Brazil."

Ronny von Hertha BSC stellt sich der Kamera von Kick off!-Redakteur Niels Schmidt
On the scene: Hertha's RonnyImage: DW/M. Frickel

The big Wolfsburg defender actually gave his best rating to the film that eventually took second place, "Baghdad Messi". As he told DW's Manuel Vering: "I was taken by the sad themes, so I gave my three points to 'Baghdad Messi'." In the short film with an epic cinematic flair, Iraqi director Sahim Omar Kalifa recounts how a young football-obsessed boy, desperate to watch his beloved Barcelona in the Champions League final, has to make the perilous journey to Baghdad after his family's TV breaks down.

Naldo und Kick off!-Redakteur Manuel Vering
Interviewing Naldo from VfL WolfsburgImage: DW/M. Frickel

The final whistle on this year's 11mm festival will be blown on Tuesday evening, bringing to a close a special focus on Brazil ahead of the 2014 World Cup Finals. Deutsche Welle also played its part this year, presenting its documentary series "50 Years of the Bundesliga" in the venerable company of legendary German striker Klaus Fischer on Saturday. DW's "The German Final" offered a truly global experience of the 2012/13 Champions League final from Rio to Ramallah and "German Football Ambassador 2014" shed light on the work of German coaches around the world.

After their jury work was over, 11mm's two Brazilian guests looked completely in their element signing autographs and chatting with fans and film buffs. By the end of the gala, Ronny was at home on the big stage as he is in Berlin's Olympic Stadium: "That was fun – I'd do it again any time!"