Saturday, 22 September 2012

Barefoot Dream (2010)

Kim WonGwang (Park HeeSoon) is an ex-soccer player, trying to make a living outside his own country. After his business ventures in Indonesia failed repeatedly, he sees a potential in the newly established independent nation, East Timor. But from the moment he stepped in the country, he's slapped with the harsh reality that he's once again fooled to believe that a business can thrive in the place. When he's on his way back to the airport, he sees a group of barefoot kids playing soccer. He sees an opportunity in this and opens a soccer shop instead of leaving the country.

I watched Barefoot Dream with no expectations, only knowing that it's about soccer. But I came away with one of the best movie experiences of my life. I'm not even exaggerating. This movie is part of Korean Film Festival showing in the Philippines right now, and it's just plain luck that this is the movie that I was fortunate enough to see in the theaters. I now understand why they chose this movie to be part of the film festival. Probably the same reason why it's South Korea's Oscar submission in 2010.

Based on a true story, Barefoot Dream tells the adventure of a Korean soccer coach and his team of kids from East Timor who see joy in soccer amid war and conflict. It's an inspiring story that will make you teary-eyed every thirty minutes. But it will definitely make you laugh whole-heartedly, too. It manages to mix the cruelties of war with children's light approach to everyday trivialities. But it's not just about playing soccer, it's about being allowed to have a dream despite all the malnutrition and poverty. Mr. Kim just want to sell soccer shoes, but he soon finds himself training these kids to be incredible soccer players, fit to compete in an international level.

Mr. Kim repeatedly says in the movie that because someone is poor doesn't mean that they can't play sports or that they're not allowed to have a dream. And this is pretty much the entire summary of the movie. When other people think it's foolish to let these kids have dream, Mr. Kim continues to train them and believe in their talents.

Maybe it's in the fact that the audience knows that the movie is the story of real people. Or maybe it's because the movie is so well-crafted. It may also be because the characters are so fleshed out, from Mr. Kim to the kids--especially Ramos, Motavio, and Tua. Whatever the reason may be, it's a moving tale of underdogs who prove that they have the talent and perseverance to be taken seriously. This is why I, along with everyone in the theater, was so moved with the movie. It's the first time that I watched a movie where everyone was clapping and shouting and cheering on the players. Some even gave a standing ovation. And it's all for good reason. It was also the first time in a long, long time that a movie made me feel incredibly good.

I do not know how much truth was stretched to make this movie. But I'm pretty sure none of it was romanticized. The East Timor-Leste soccer team made six miraculous wins in the Liberino Cup in 2004, and that's something you just can't fabricate.

To further convince you, please see the trailer below:

(Photo sources: Hancinema + Koreanmovie)

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