A Game and a Religion

‘Will’, featured in the Football Films segment of IFFK, was inspired by the legendary 2005 Champions League finals, says

Published: 16th December 2011 01:11 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 03:34 PM   |  A+A-


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Ellen Perry is just two documentaries and one film old. But she has already put 15 years of her life into the world of moving images. She has a strong reason for spending so much time into one production. “Filmmaking is a science, every piece has to fall into its place,’’ Ellen says.

After her first two documentaries, which received wide acclaim in festivals around the globe, when Ellen chose to capture the madness of the game of football on screen, she knew she was taking a risk.  “Initially when my co-writer Zack Anderson suggested a sports movie, I was like, should we do it? Then we decided we will tell the story through a child’s eye and keep football as the backdrop,’’ Ellen narrates how ‘Will’ her debut feature was born. Her skepticism has found no ground. The two screenings of the movie at the 16th International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) has been overwhelming, she says.

It took 42 days and shooting in three countries to finish ‘Will’ which has chosen the final match between Liverpool and AC Milan at the 2005 Champions League as its backbone. “It is hailed as the ultimate game in the history of club football. Football and Films have had its share of mavericks and ‘Will’ appeases both categories,’’ Ellen says. The story revolves around a boy, Will Brennan, who to keep his last word to his father, decides to undertake a journey to watch the final match between Liverpool and AC Milan at Istanbul. From his school in US, the little Liverpool fan runs away and travels across Europe to reach Istanbul. On his way, he meets a Bosnian who had to dump football owing to personal grievances. The young Will and his maverick enthusiasm kindles in the former footballer his passion for the game and together, they reach their destination.

Ellen has roped in original Liverpool players Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher and Manager Kenny Dalglish whose cameos have added to the beauty of the film. The film would evoke thrilling moments in a Liverpool fan with the song ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, which is almost like a theme song for them, being included in the film.

Ellen’s first documentary ‘Great Wall Across the Yangtze’ had chosen to explore the Three Gorges Dam project in China’s Yangtze river. It had bagged the Grand Festival Award at the Berkeley Film Festival. The second work on Peruvian President in exile Alberto Fujimori,  The Fall of Fujimori, was even more widely received. “I had to wait for months before he trusted me and let me near him. It took me five years to complete the work,’’ Ellen remembers.

“After the documentaries, I wanted to keep the film low-budget. But a feature demands its share of magnanimity. The 1000s of extras, the cranes over the football ground and the travels,  I was like, oh..it’s become a big event,’’ she smilingly recalls. But Ellen would rather not call it a football film. “It’s about love and family. Football is the backdrop,’’ she would correct us.

While she has already begun thinking of her next film, she is in no hurry to get back to US. “I am going to holiday in Kerala for two weeks before I go home,’’ Ellen is energy-packed.

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