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Kicking & Screening debuts in Manhattan [VIDEO]
by Paul Kennedy, July 10th, 2009 7AM
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&feature[MOVIE WATCH] Soccer has a rich tradition in film, so it's only natural that a film festival has been dedicated to the Beautiful Game. Organized by Rachel Markus and Greg Lalas, the Kicking & Screening International Soccer Film Festival will take place at five locations in New York over five days, beginning Tuesday.

Four films plus a panel discussion on David Beckham's MLS stint followed by a Red Bulls-Galaxy viewing program are on the program.

It begins Tuesday (Bastille Day) at Opia Restaurant (130 East 57th Street) with a gem -- "Les Yeux dans les Bleus," the documentary by French filmmaker Stephane Meunier chronicling the French national team during its 1998 World Cup championship campaign.

From the first training camp to the postgame celebration inside the locker room after the Bleus' 3-0 win over Brazil in the final, "Les Yeux dans les Bleus" is an imitate look at Coach Aime Jacquet and his 22 players, from superstar Zinedine Zidane to then-teenager Thierry Henry. If you've wondered what it's like inside the locker room of a major national team, Meunier delivers, having been granted behind-the-scenes access to the inner workings of the Bleus.

The French stars have a reputation for being aloof, but the enduring image from the film is of Zidane, sitting in his favorite seat in the back of the team bus, turning and waving to the thousands of fans who lined the route from the team's training center in Clairefontaine to the Stade de France on the afternoon of the final.

"Les Yeux dans les Bleus":

The rest of the program:

-- Wednesday, July 15 -- "Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos" with an introduction from Shep Messing, one of the former Cosmos stars, at the TriBeCa Grand Hotel (2 Avenue of the Americas);

-- Thursday, July 16 -- "Beckham in America," a panel discussion on Beckham's stint in America, followed by a Red Bulls-Los Angeles Galaxy viewing party at Slainte (304 Bowery);

-- Friday, July 17 -- "FC Barcelona Confidential," an inside look at how Joan Laporta turned around Barcelona following his election as president in 2003, at the Spanish Benevolent Society (239 West 14th Street);

-- Saturday, July 18 -- "In the Hands of the Gods," the story of five Englishmen on a search for Diego Maradona, Central Bar (109 East 9th Street).

For soccer fanatics, Kicking & Screening is a midsummer's treat.

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