AJFF Review: Giving Conflict a Kick

AJFF Review: Giving Conflict a Kick

Dave Schechter

Dave Schechter is a veteran journalist whose career includes writing and producing reports from Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Above: Moshe Ivgy plays the head of the Israeli soccer federation in “The 90 Minute War,” showing Jan. 29 and Feb. 2, 3, 4 and 10.

After repeated failed efforts to negotiate peace between Israel and the Palestinians, only one option remains.

A soccer match.

The winner stays on the land both claim; the loser looks for a new home.

That is the premise of “The 90 Minute War,” an 84-minute mockumentary that will screen five times at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. The title comes from the length of a soccer game, played in two 45-minute halves.

Israeli director Eyal Halfon wants audience members to feel that they’re getting an inside look during this satirical what-if story.

A mock television correspondent (who was a correspondent in real life in Israel) appears periodically as the plot advances. The filmmaker uses up-close and personal interviews with the (not real) heads of the Israeli and Palestinian soccer federations, who lay out a mix of real issues and fictional situations.

The fake documentary includes an Israeli checkpoint where members of the Palestinian team are harassed and their bus turned around, familiar accusations exchanged by the Israeli and Palestinian protagonists, and references to Gaza tunnels, used in the film to smuggle in a Palestinian who plays in Germany.

How an Israeli Arab player, who wrestles with somewhat divided loyalties, finds a way out of his dilemma will not be divulged here.

There are relaxed, even friendly moments. The Israeli federation chief offers his antacid tablets to his Palestinian counterpart during a heated meeting, and they share photographs of their grandchildren and children over drinks at a tavern near the Portuguese stadium where the game will be played the next day.

Knowledgeable fans will chuckle at the film’s jabs at soccer’s international governing body, and fans of the English Premier League will chuckle when the Israeli and Palestinian chiefs jointly reject a particular referee.

The outcome of the game? You’ll have to buy a ticket to “The 90 Minute War.”

Click for screening details and tickets

read more: