Hot Docs 2019: Our Review of ‘Khartoum Offside’

Hot Docs 2019: Our Review of ‘Khartoum Offside’

It’s not easy explaining a documentary like Marwa Zein’s Khartoum Offside. That’s because it must always come with an explanation about Western perceptions of Islamic patriarchy. This belongs to a sub-genre of movies about female Muslim soccer players. There’s already an assumption that most of the men we’ll see are mustache twirling misogynists, which is untrue here.

Men get some screen time and some attention from the male critics who will eventually watch this. But this is a film about women. Zein is a Sudanese expat returning to her country. And she pays attention to what sets these women apart other than being black female soccer players. Conversation take place between Muslim and Christian athlete that have a sense of levity.

Because of the Sharia law in place in Sudan, women can’t both play soccer and make films, but here we are. This doc is a revolutionary act as well as her full length debut feature. Her intentions are noble which makes this passable. It’s equally understandable that this doc visuals and aesthetic reflects the team’s scrappy shoestring budget.

The film also ends with pictures both of female Sudanese football players and filmmakers of past generations. Again, this is more about the present situation in that country, which is interesting enough in itself. But to say that this glosses over the short history of women in both industries is an understatement. Audiences would not have objected against a longer film.

Nonetheless, this film captures its subjects’ passion towards football. These women are smarter and more aggressive than I was when I was playing. The film itself emulates these women’s spry energies even when they’re not playing and are just talking. Why does a country and a religion not allow or financially support them just because of their gender?

  • Release Date: 4/26/2019
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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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