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Footballers strike for Kicking And Screening Festival

A host of legendary ex-Arsenal FC stars from the Highbury club’s 1988-89 First Division winning team will be in attendance at the opening night of the second The Kicking And Screening Festival in London (September 28 to October 4).

The Festival, which showcases 10 football themed films, begins with a special screening of the film of Fever Pitch (1997), starring Colin Firth. This marks the 20th anniversary of Nick Hornby’s book, Fever Pitch: A Fan’s Life.

Former club captain Tony Adams will introduce the screening, which will be held on Sept 28 at Screen On The Green in Islington (one of the first cinemas to show the film). Festival organiser Tom Watt has confirmed that former club stalwarts Ian Wright (who joined Arsenal in 1991), Alan Smith, Paul Davis and Lee Dixon will also be in attendance as should other members of the 1988-89 team.

“Tony will introduce Fever Pitch and talk about his memories of May 26th 1989,” Watt said of the day on which Arsenal won the League with a last minute goal away against Liverpool. (This match marks the climactic moment of Fever Pitch.)

“As well as a chance to celebrate Fever Pitch, it’s also a Tony Adams then and now night,” author, broadcaster and former EastEnders star Watt commented.

It’s yet to be confirmed whether Nick Hornby will be at the screening.

Prior to the Fever Pitch screening, there will be the premiere of Journey, a new short film that Watt has directed about Adams’ recent experiences as manager of FC Gabala in Azerbaijan. “We’re talking three hours up into the mountains of the Caucusus. It’s an unbelievable location. It’s obviously great from a filmmaker’s point of view because it’s stunningly beautiful.”

Adams’ job was to build a football club almost from scratch. Watt is hoping to return to Azerbaijan to shoot a longer version of the film, which was made with backing from FC Gabala.

The Kicking And Screening Festival will close with the world premiere of The Beautiful Game, directed by Victor Buhler and Julian Cautherley, at The Everyman’s new cinema in Maida Vale. 

The Beautiful Game is billed as “a character based feature documentary about the power of football in modern Africa.” Contributors include Kofi Anaan, Didier Drogba, Jose Mourinho, Sulley Muntari and Kolo Touré among others.

“The film isn’t about the big names. It’s about the grassroots stories,” Watt commented. “We’ve all seen films about the big stars where the fans and people from the grassroots talk about their heroes but this is the heroes talking about the circumstances that these grassroots stories represent.”

Other highlights in the Festival include the British premiere of Verena Soltiz’s 1:1 Thierry Henry, a new doc about the experiences of Henry (Arsenal’s leading goal scorer) as a member of the New York Red Bulls. The film features contributions from Henry as well as from such other noted football figures as David Beckham, Patrice Evra, and Arsene Wenger.

Launched in April 2009, K&S was the first film festival in North America devoted exclusively to football. It was founded by Rachel Markus and Greg Lalas. The success of the inaugural K&S/New York festival inspired a second K&S/New York festival in 2010 and also satellite festivals in Washington DC, Houston, Boston and, most recently, Amsterdam. The third annual K&S/New York festival will be staged at the Tribeca Cinemas this month.

The London event is headed by Watt and Grant Best, a Senior Live Match Director with Sky Sports.

Its supporters include the Everyman Group, the PFA, the Forest Studio and Arsenal Community.

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