WRITTEN BY ANDREW MAGEE

London’s first ever football film festival kicked off yesterday at a star-studded opening night in Belsize Park. 

Kicking and Screening runs until the 29th September at four Everyman cinemas across London and will show 17 different football features, shorts and documentaries. 

Players, journalists and fans were present at the festival launch, which opened with a screening of 2006 documentary Once In A Lifetime:  The extraordinary story of the New York Cosmos.

Event organiser Grant Best brought the festival toLondonfrom its birthplace inNew Yorkand expects it to flourish. 

“We’ve been delighted. It was a full house and everyone seemed to enjoy it,” he said. 

“We’d love to do it again next year. We’d like to do some satellite festivals through the UK and if we can take it further afield we’d love to. 

“If people want to come somewhere and enjoy football, film and film about football then that’s what we want to do.” 

As guests arrived on the green carpet, they were treated to a display of Cosmos memorabilia and fabulous festival artwork, as well as the chance to mingle with some famous faces. 

Former Arsenal defender Lee Dixon supported the event and highlighted the romance that cinema can bring to sport. 

He said: “I think the fantasy element of film appeals to people and to see football in a cinema has a special air about it. That’s why I think this will be really successful.” 

Sky Sports News anchor Charlotte Jackson also felt that this event was long overdue in the capital. 

She said: “I jumped at the chance to come here. It’s about time there’s a football film festival. 

“I think sporting cinema is a lot more nostalgic moving. People that might not be so interested in sport can get more involved in it.” 

Other films to be screened include One Night in Turin, Argentina Futbol Club, Soka Afrika and the cult classic Escape to Victory

Spanish football journalist Guillem Balague, who will introduce the UK premiere of Cuando Fuimos Campeones on Tuesday, commended the idea. 

He said: “It’s a great event. The whole thing is a very good idea and I can’t believe nobody’s done it before. 

“Sports documentaries have a touch of reality at a time when so much is artificial.” 

Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler, whose son Adam has a short being screened at the festival, relished the evening and the upcoming football documentaries in particular.  

He said: “We all like the fiction films in theory but they’re very hard to put together. 

“The drama that comes from real life sport is often better than anything you can come up with. When you’ve been close to the reality it’s lovely to see it on the screen.” 

The festival continues at cinemas in Hampstead, BelsizePark, Baker Street and Islington until Friday. 

For more information go to http://kickingandscreening.com/ or follow the festival on Twitter @KSFilmFest

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.