MARADONA '86 Director and editor 23' 2014 — Made for ESPN's highly regarded 30 for 30 series and produced by John Battsek for Passion Pictures, Maradona '86 premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. —
"Soccer continues to be the art of the unforeseeable. When you least expect it, the impossible occurs." In so describing the beautiful game, journalist Eduardo Galeano underscores both its alluring mystery and perpetual hope, while you watch Diego Maradona's wholly unforeseeable play near the end of the FIFA World Cup in 1986. The grainy, old-TV footage serves as evidence of the impossible occurrence: Maradona, so ready for redemption on 29 June.
Maradona's readiness for this particular moment is the focus of 30 for 30 Soccer Stories: Maradona '86, premiering 22 April on ESPN. A lyrical assembly of found footage under narration taken from Galeano's wide-ranging historical commentary, Soccer in Sun and Shadow, Sam Blair's documentary is less about Maradona or the 1986 World Cup than it is about the very idea of the unforeseeable.
As ideas go, it's pretty abstract, but soccer, and Maradona too, serve as apt vehicles for such meditation. Even if you know the outcome of Argentina's return to the World Cup, this time held in Mexico's Estadio Azteca, the film creates a remarkable set of tensions. Its story of Maradona is the story of so many "erratic temperaments," pitted against larger forces and yet determined somehow to wrest control, or at least pretend that some control might be possible over the "bouncing ball."