We’re familiar with the images of TV sport: live events, highlights, interviews, panels, replays. But there remain spaces not often touched by the cameras, which, when we encounter them, show us how limited this saturation coverage actually is. Hell on Wheels (Höllentour, Pepe Danquart, 2004) is a great example of this, a documentary that spends time with the Deutsche Telekom team in their 2003 Tour de France battle. With this film I felt like I was more in the Tour in a way that the regular broadcasts didn’t convey. More recently, Zidane, un portrait du 21e siècle (Zidane, a 21C Portrait, Douglas Gordon & Philippe Parreno, 2006) spent nearly its entire 90 minutes on Zinédine Zidane from multiple camera angles. He’s shot in close up and medium close up the entire time. We catch glimpses of team mates like Beckham, but they are mere texture here behind the intense, sweating, concentrating Zidane. His is one contribution among many to the game at hand, but in looking just at him there’s a real sense of his work and dexterity.
A shorter film on football, which I caught last night on SBS TV’s Shorts on Screen slot, is Michael Koch’s Wir Sind dir Treu (We’re Faithful to You, 2005). It’s about 9 minutes long and uses two cameras, pointed only at a stand of FC Basel supporters. They have a cheerleader, a conductor: a sweaty and energetic twentysomething guy with a megaphone who gets them to shout louder, to raise their arms together, to sit down only to spring up again rousingly, to chant and clap. What I found fascinating was the range and complexity of the cheering repertoire, the complete unity with which they did it, and also the interplay between the self-generated performance and the rhythms of the game they were watching. There was real sense of watching a ritual, seeing something that even being there among them you wouldn’t catch in the same way, unless you were operating one of those cameras.
(Images: Wir sind dir treu, Michael Koch, 2006)
At the end, the conductor puts on his jacket, rolls up his flag and heads off like everyone else. The platform he’s been standing on is picked up by four younger fans (acolytes?) and carried away. I’m not sure, I think Basel beat Zurich 3-2. I don’t know who scored or how. But what a game.