Nefta Football Club


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Nefta Football Club
"Nefta Football Club scores thanks to the charisma of its two young stars."

To young children, the idea of justice is particularly important. It's easier to feel secure when there are clear rules. There's no need to fight over how the football match is played if one knows where the lines are. There would be no need to argue with one's brother if he respected the clear and obvious fact that Mahrez is a better footballer than Messi. At least Abdallah (Mohamed Ali Ayari) knows where the line is between Tunisia and Algeria, and that's why he insists that his brother stop the bike there, so that he can piss into Mahrez's country.

Only a few years older but a lot more worldly-wise, Hama (Eltayef Dhaoui) has had a trying day. They still have quite a way to go and he's tired of Abdallah messing around. When he sees his little brother wandering back down the slope towing a mule which is wearing headphones, we can see his heart sink. But when he realises what the mule is carrying on its back, everything changes. Hama has his own ideas about justice - and lines.

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A whimsical little story built on a premise that is inescapably silly but still just about believable, Nefta Football Club scores thanks to the charisma of its two young stars and the way it contrasts the values of people at different stages in life. The two boys ave fantastic chemistry and make a great comedy duo. Dhaoui does an impressive lines in weariness for a kid his age and hits all the right notes when Hama has to deal with more complex situations. Ayari is effortlessly adorable and approaches his role with an openness that makes the film feel lively and fresh. The machinations of the script aside, no artifice is needed to make the comedy work.

Nominated for both an Oscar and a C├ęsar, Nefta Football Club is a little charmer of a film that stands up boldly alongside the bleak tales that usually get all the attention in awards season. It's a film full of vigour and optimism with a simple message at heart: even when you're not sure where the edge is, you can always find a solution.

Reviewed on: 29 Jan 2020
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Nefta Football Club packshot
In the south of Tunisia, two football-fan brothers bump into a donkey lost in the middle of the desert on the border of Algeria. Strangely, the animal wears headphones over its ears.

Director: Yves Piat

Starring: Eltayef Dhaoui, Mohamed Ali Ayari, Lyes Salem, Hichem Mesbah

Year: 2018

Runtime: 17 minutes

Country: France


EIFF 2019

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