Offside Made in: Israel Language: English Directors: Erez Tadmor, Guy Nattiv Starring: Joad Abed El Gani, Ido Mosseri, Liron Levo, Dirar Suleiman Year: 2006
Synopsis: In this short film (which is posted above for your viewing pleasure), two Israeli soldiers are patrolling the security zone that separates them from Palestine.
To pass they time, they listen to a portable radio which is broadcasting a live soccer match between arch-rivals Brazil and Italy. The signal is spotty, so the soldier holding the radio has to keep adjusting it.
When the Israeli soldiers are suddenly confronted by two armed Palestinian militants (who appear directly on the other side of the security fence), automatic weapons are drawn and a tense face-off ensues.
However, the radio continues playing, and it soon becomes clear that both parties happen to be rooting for the same team.
How the game and standoff ends is anyone's guess...
The Good: This is a clever concept that works perfectly for a short film. Directors Erez Tadmor and Guy Nattiv, who have explored the theme of middle east tensions between Arabs and Jews before, do a great job defining the characters and conflict without dialogue.
Using soccer as an allegory for a number of themes, the film gets its message a cross very clearly through an effective blend of drama, humor, hope, and tragedy.
Bad: Although engrossing and clever, Offside doesn't do enough to challenge the audience.
The message, although authentic, doesn't go beyond telling us something that we haven't already discussed when it comes to tensions between Israel and Palestine. Also, it's a little heavy-handed. And as with most indie films, this one follows the "if you see a gun, someone's gonna die" formula.
Who would like this film: Offside is for you if you appreciate short films and have an interest in world events and soccer (or football, if you're reading this article outside the US). It's a smart, sobering story but I thought Erez Tadmor and Guy Nattiv could have come up with a better surprise ending.