High School Students at World Cinema Day View German, Iranian Cultures

CONTACT: Wendy Johnson, 608-262-1473, wsjohnso@wisc.edu

MADISON – On Friday, April 3, Wisconsin high school students and teachers will participate in World Cinema Day, for an educational screening of “Football Under Cover” (Germany, 2008: in German, Persian and English with English subtitles) , a film that documents the efforts of both the Iranian and German teams to cross cultural and national borders to play the match of a lifetime. After watching the film, students will meet one of the directors, David Assmann, from Berlin, Germany.

World Cinema Day is a high school outreach program of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Language Institute, in collaboration with the Wisconsin Film Festival. The goals of World Cinema Day, now in its sixth year, are to raise awareness among high school students of the diversity of world cultures, languages and societies; to promote deeper understanding of other cultural perspectives and practices; and to provide high school students with access to high-quality international film that they would not otherwise have the opportunity to view or discuss.

“Football Under Cover” documents the efforts of a German women’s soccer club to play the match, and follows their travel to Iran to fulfill that dream.  Obstacles encountered along the way, ranging from last-minute visa problems to restrictions placed on their soccer uniforms by Iran’s Islamic law, are met with a tenacious drive to connect with Iranian counterparts. Equally driven are the Iranian women who, despite rules dictating the how, when and where of playing soccer under the critical eye of Iran’s moral police, maintain a steady and serious devotion to their sport. “This is not primarily a film about football,” state directors David Assmann and Ayat Najafi. “Our main goal was to convey an image of Iran that goes beyond the usual clichés and stereotypes.”

UW-Madison associate professor of German Venkat Mani will introduce “Football Under Cover” to the high school audience and illuminate complexities of the film that defy easy labeling. “This amusing, engaging, and politically-charged film adds, and then slowly removes, multiple layers of gender, culture, religion, and politics that form the complicated ‘plot’ of this documentary.”

Mani will be joined at World Cinema Day by Fatemeh Mirsharifi, a UW-Madison graduate student from Iran who will share her perspectives on the film, and participate in a post-screening panel discussion.

Fourteen high schools from Wisconsin, and one from Illinois, will take part in World Cinema Day. The event is free for participating schools. Teachers will receive a discussion guide in advance of the event, to help them prepare their students for the screening and educational program.

This project is funded by a grant from the Madison Arts Commission, the Wisconsin Arts Board, and UW-Madison’s Center for European Studies, Center for German and European Studies, and Middle East Studies Program.

Assmann and others associated with the film will talk with Jean Ferraca on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders” from 3-4 p.m. on Monday, March 30, with a repeat from 9-10 pm; also available at http://www.wpr.org/hereonearth.

The UW-Madison Language Institute promotes collaboration for research, education and outreach in world languages and cultures. The Language Institute is an initiative of the College of Letters and Science, with substantial support from the Division of International Studies. For more information, visit http://www.languageinstitute.wisc.edu/wcd.


World Cinema Day 2009 participating schools:

East High School
Madison, Wis.

Edgewood High School
Madison, Wis.

Freedom High School
Freedom, Wis.

Hononegah High School
Rockton, Ill.

Janesville Academy for International Studies
Janesville, Wis.

Johnson Creek High School
Johnson Creek, Wis.

Kewaskum High School
Kewaskum, Wis.

LaFollette High School
Madison, Wis.

Lake Mills High School
Lake Mills, Wis.

Logan High School
La Crosse, Wis.

Plymouth High School
Plymouth, Wis.

SAPAR/Affiliated Alternatives
Madison, Wis.

Sparta Area Independent Learning School (SAILS)
Sparta, Wis.

West High School
Madison, Wis.