Using candid talking heads, in-situ filming and unlimited access to all participants, Zinshtein is able to paint a compelling picture of intolerance, self-interest and political agendas, where the unwilling pawn each time is the football team Beitar Jerusalem FC.
Obsessional behaviour amongst football fans is nothing new. Vaguely tribal yet regimented it gives structure, provides an essential support network, but also has the ability to isolate, misinform and ostracise. In some countries this fandom can turn to fanaticism which turns it on a dime into an organisation with tangible clout, uncapped people power and influence beyond the stands. In Forever Pure, Maya Zinshtein illustrates just this issue with an examination of Beitar Jerusalem FC, Israel’s most popular and divisive football team.
Following their 2012-13 season which saw them rise to fourth position before plummeting back to last, Zinshtein examines its ex-owner and Russian oligarch Arcadi Gaydamak, as well as the club history. Focusing on their extreme right wing supporters named simply La Familia, she charts their influence not only from this moment in time but across sporting history. Grounded in religious fervour and able to indoctrinate youth players who sit alongside them, this organisation holds court over players, coaches and the board. Like a child getting its own way through intimidation, trolling on social media and openly mocking people at training grounds, Forever Pure illustrates how a group of individuals unified by one belief can control enough opinions to derail a national sporting institution.
Using candid talking heads, in-situ filming and unlimited access to all participants, Zinshtein is able to paint a compelling picture of intolerance, self-interest and political agendas, where the unwilling pawn each time is Beitar Jerusalem FC. Each side of the equation whether fan, fanatic, board member or owner all operate to an agenda. Meaning that ultimately nobody comes out of this squeaky clean. What Zinshtein has done here is create something unique. Neither football documentary nor social document, Forever Pure is a snapshot in time which should make the wider world hide their face. One of the most inclusive, life affirming and passionate games ever invented turned into a means of control rather than unity.
Some might say this is just an expansion of hooliganism as seen through the mobilised groups including Combat 18, but those people are missing the point. La Familia garners huge numbers and enough implied nation influence to gain political power. Highly organised, relentless in their condemnation or praise, these people possess the ability to destabilise a nation. Savagely honest, riveting in its documentation of real life events and based upon an area of the world people should learn more about, Forever Pure shows you a country where those who stand up to be counted live in fear, have armed security outside their homes and check for car bombs every morning. This is the reality these people live in when a club signs the wrong two players. Stark, uncompromising and chillingly matter of fact, every football supporter needs to watch this.
Written by Martin Carr
Directed by: Maya Zinshtein
Written by: n/a
Starring: Eli Cohen, Arcadi Gaydamak, Ariel Harush
Released: 2016 / Genre: Documentary
Country: UK/Israel/Russia / IMDB
Top 10 Films reviewed Forever Pure on DVD courtesy of Dogwoof. The film was released on demand on Aug 7.