Dirs: PaulCrowder, John Dower. US. 2006. 98 mins.

Aiming for the huge double demographicof football fans and 1970s nostalgics, Once In A Lifetime narrates the rise andfall of the New York Cosmos football team which, for a few short years in thelate 1970s, was home to stars of the international football firmament likePele, Franz Beckenbauer and Carlos Alberto.

Shot on HDD, it'san absorbing trip which baits its public with full-on football footage and ano-expense-spared soundtrack of '70s' classics from the likes of James Brown,Steely Dan and the Osmonds. It also works on a dramatic level, using what atfirst seems the rather static and conventional approach of memory-laneinterviews with players, promoters and managers to build little eddies of conflict.

Picked up by TheMiramax Company in North America and Pathe in the UK (where it will be releasedin mid-May on around 40 screens), the film should attract interest in otherterritories where the memory of this short-lived experiment in the Americanisationof the beautiful game still raises a smile or a grimace. More than one of thepundits interviewed in the film makes the point that the experiment was aheadof its time, and while innovations like the shootouts that were invented toassuage the US allergy to draws have not stuck, others like multi-nationalityteam formations are here to stay.

In a nation whereteams are referred to as 'franchises', it was appropriate that Cosmosshould have been the creation of Warner Communications' boss Steve Ross, a sortof proto Rupert Murdoch. The shrewd but flamboyant Ross is the film's handsomesvengali, while the villain of the piece though he defends himself robustlyfrom the verbal sniping of most of the other interviewees is GiorgioChinaglia, the Italo-Welsh striker who was the National Soccer League's leadinggoal-scorer and became a sort of shadow advisor to Ross.

The major no-showis Pele, who "declined to be interviewed" (information which is ironicallyaccompanied by the ringing of a cash register), but the film gets around theproblem elegantly by suggesting via some entertaining contributions from theoriginal semi-amateur players whose lives were transformed when the Braziliansuperstar became their teammate that he was always somehow apart from theteam. One of the funniest of some eminently collectable anecdotes is one aboutthe great man coming off the threadbare pitch Cosmos played on at the timeafter his first match and refusing to ever play again because his feet hadturned green. But it wasn't a deadly fungus it was just the spray paint theyhad used to make mud look more like grass.

Production companies
Passion Pictures
Cactus Three

Greenestreet Films

John Battsek

Jessica Ludgrove
Agi Orsi

Mark Monroe

Paul Crowder

Music supervisor
Liz Gallacher

Matt Dillon