By Trent Neely
We are The Geordies, a new documentary film from James DeMarco and Zhara Zomorrodian follows the Newcastle United Football Club during the 2016-2017 season. After years of a relative lack of success, controversial decisions from upper management, and relegation from the Premier League to the second tier Championship League: this documentary follows fans of the team through the ups and downs of the season as the team seeks to gain promotion back to the Premier League, and perhaps even win a championship under beloved manager Rafael Benitez.
At the heart of this film is a love letter to fandom and what fandom means to people. Over the years, many have questioned how sport fans can be so passionate about a team they usually have never played for. The interviewees featured here have varied backgrounds when it comes to their individual stories of becoming Newcastle fans. For some, it is a generational obsession, passed down from parent to child, leading to core moments in people’s upbringing. In some cases, kids are even named in tribute to important figures in the club’s history.
For two interview subjects, the passion was formed as part of making friends in grade school and has served as a pillar of the friendship up until the present day. One person interviewed comes from a culture where an obsession for football is not as prevalent. Yet, when she is in that stadium that does not matter, she is simply one of the fans. This concept is displayed constantly throughout the film. We see fans on the day of matches as they get to set aside the pressures of life, illness, and work. Once there, they are able to be present for a moment in time and show their love for their team with thousands of other people as passionate as them.
The crew on this film does much to help the audience connect with this fandom. Rarely do the interviews feel formal or staged. They serve to inform us about the passion of the fanbase, but one also gets the sense listening to the interviewees that they are grateful to have documented testimony of their love for their team to share with the world. Despite their varied backgrounds, the one common thread present in all the interviews is the shared never-ending hope that the team will succeed and that no matter what, their support will never waver.
Interviewers talk with people in their homes as they share stories of the important games they both saw and missed, talk about photos and pieces of memorabilia and memories formed with friends and family at matches. We follow fans on train rides as they talk about all the logistical hoops they had to jump through just to go to one match. During matches themselves, cinematographers James Grieves and Esther Vardy along with DeMarco make the camera itself a presence in the stands.
Yet the focus is rarely on the matches themselves but rather the fans. Close-ups of faces wrought with tension waiting to see if a game-winning goal is scored, shots of sullen yet still hopeful faces after a defeat, or sweeping shots of people jumping with joy at a victory. The editing by Nick Light is also superb. Scenes of victory chants beginning in the stadium are followed by shots of fans still chanting in jubilation at the train station as fans begin their journeys back home, demonstrating that moments of joy will carry on long past the final whistle. By the end of the film, one can’t help but get caught up in the emotions and the moments shared by this team and its fanbase.
If you are looking for a film that demonstrates what being a fan means, how sports can bring together people of different backgrounds and serve as a bond and source of hope whether the team is winning or losing, consider watching this film.
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