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Our own Alan Sepinwall has spoken very highly of "The Two Escobars" by Michael and Jeff Zimbalist. You can see that film on Netflix Instant right now as part of ESPN's "30 By 30" series, and I highly recommend you do so. Alan was right about how good it was, and it's one of the few documentaries from this series that I've seen more than once. It's that dense and rewarding a piece.
Here's the first thing you need to know about Michael and Jeff Zimbalist as filmmakers. They get soccer. Football. Whatever you know it as, they understand the drama of the game, and they understand the world's relationship to it. More than that, they understand the drama of the life story of a person, and that's a hard thing to do right.
There are any number of biopics that are technically proficient, well-acted, well-cast, and utterly stiff. To tell a story using the highlights of a real person's life is very difficult, much more difficult than it seems. You can't just make it a greatest hits montage. It takes a deft touch to turn that into something really affecting, and the remarkable part of "The Two Escobars" is seeing just how good they are at all of it. They tell a hell of a story, they make it human and emotional, and they dig deep to try to show how soccer affects these countries.
I remember when people went crazy for Pele in the '70s. It had already happened overseas, but for a brief period of time, Pele was a big deal in the US, and just after my seventh birthday, my parents took me to Tampa Stadium to watch Pele play our local team, the Tampa Bay Rowdies. I have vivid memories from the event, and a quick image search today turned up this poster for the event --
Brian Grazer and Imagine Films are involved in getting this new film made, and they've got their work cut out for them making a feature film about the life of Pele, who was an international icon. Another major subject in their films has been life in the favelas of South America, and they're going to be looking at how Pele went from where he began to where he ended up. It could be a huge international picture, and I'm genuinely excited to see these guys working in narrative films.
Here's today's press release:
Writer/Directors: The feature film is written and will be directed by Michael Zimbalist and Jeff Zimbalist.
Production Companies: Imagine Entertainment and Seine Pictures
Producers: Brian Grazer, Ivan Orlic, Kim Roth and Dany Wolf
Executive Producers: Pelé, Paul Kemsley, Guy East
International Sales: Exclusive Media’s President of International Sales and Distribution, Alex Walton will introduce the film to international buyers at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival.
Domestic Rights: Domestic rights are jointly repped by CAA and WME
Logline: PELÉ tells the inspirational story of Pelé’s rise to glory, from his impoverished youth in Brazil to a soccer prodigy who put the hopes and dreams of his country on his shoulders, to lead Brazil to its first ever world cup victory in 1958 and become the greatest player that ever lived.
Status: Currently in pre-production for an August 2013 start date.
Imagine Entertainment and Seine Pictures licensed Pelé’s life rights from Sports Licensing International B.V.
The deals were negotiated by WME on behalf of Pelé, Paul Kemsley, Michael and Jeff Zimbalist and Sports Licensing International B.V; CAA on behalf of Imagine Entertainment; Michael Mayerson and Kevin Garlitz of Loeb&Loeb on behalf of Seine Pictures; and Exclusive Media’s COO of International, Paul Davidge.
Pelé will be at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival to support the international launch of the film.
The Zimbalist brothers directed and produced together the Cannes Film Festival 2010 title THE TWO ESCOBARS which was released by Disney / ESPN Films and was also nominated for an Emmy Award. Jeff Zimbalist additionally directed FAVELA RISING which garnered him the Best Emerging Filmmaker Award at the 2005 TriBeCa Film Festival and an Emmy Award nomination in 2006.
Launched in 2012, Ivan Orlic’s Seine Pictures is actively engaged in pursuing projects both as producers and financiers. Under the direction of Benjamin Mathes, Caroline Bernhardt, and founder Ivan Orlic, the company currently has a number of projects in active development.
Imagine Entertainment and Exclusive Media are currently in post-production on the epic action thriller RUSH, dated for US release through Universal Pictures on September 20th, 2013.
It sounds like Imagine and Exclusive are building a relationship of co-productions, and it looks like sports-themed drama has their interest, at least for the moment.