March 2, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra
I don’t pay much attention to sports. In fact, I wonder why anyone would bother to watch the full length of a game when ESPN is just going to play the 10 best few seconds of it over and over again later. Still, even I acknowledge that sometimes, sports are more than games. Take South Africa’s 1995 rugby team, The Springboks, for instance. The team brought a nation together in a way Nelson Mandela couldn’t do alone. It’s a fascinating story, and it’s not alone. The Olympics, too, have a historic track record of blurring the line between athletics and global politics, and suddenly, more is on the line than gold medals. Today’s project is telling another true tale of sports taking on a dimension beyond fun and games.
Playing the Game will be a film exploring the true story of a group of desperate, impoverished and starved Ukrainians who, in the midst of World War II, are forced to work for Nazis under a turbulent regime change. They band together, forming a rag-tag soccer team to take on their German companions on the field, where the stakes rise under the pressure of shifting loyalties and under the umbrella of open war.
Starved to death by the brutal Stalinist regime, Josef Kordik recruits his friends into a bakery controlled by the German Nazis. There’s only one way out of the merciless invasion of Ukraine: Pledge allegiance to Hitler and live on as traitors.
In a city where no one can be trusted and allegiances shift with the wind, a game will now be staged behind closed doors. As the stakes rise and the future of their nation grows dim, the bakers know the only trophy in this game is loyalty.
But no ordinary men would dare make the sacrifice they must make to reclaim the voice of their people…
What makes this story most fascinating is that it’s true. This happened. More or less.
Tyler Gooden is now in the process of pitching this film to the film production industry he’s been working with throughout his career. This Kickstarter campaign is hoping to fund an animated, short version of the full-length film that will be used to help sell the story to big-screen producers. I think the short itself will be worth the watch, but I’m also a bigger fan of sports highlights than of the superbowl, so maybe I’m the wrong guy to ask. Still, Tyler is hard at work putting together a beautiful illustration of a remarkable story about an extraordinary game.
Help him bring this story to life by backing it on Kickstarter before March 22.