Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine

Kicking It Director Susan Koch


I n February 2001, I was reading a blog from the annual World Economic Forum in Davos. I was intrigued by a brief mention of the Homeless World Cup. As a documentary filmmaker, I’m always on the lookout for entertaining, important stories that are off the beaten track. An international street soccer competition for homeless people may sound like a crazy idea. But many of the world’s best soccer players come from the streets. Neil Barrett, my frequent film partner and director of photography, and I headed out, filming players training for the 4th Annual Homeless World Cup in Cape Town, South Africa. Our filming took us to war-torn Afghanistan, the drug clinics of Dublin, the slums of Nairobi, the public shelters of Madrid, the streets of Charlotte, North Carolina, and the unforgiving city of St. Petersburg, Russia. We saw first-hand the tremendous power of sport to change lives by fostering teamwork, building self-confidence, and creating a sense of community. The week-long competition in Cape Town was a phenomenal sporting event. We headed home with over 200 hours of footage. Codirector and editor Jeff Werner spent six months editing what would become a 98-minute film. We put the final touches on less than two weeks before it premiered at Sundance. Seeing Kicking It on the big screen with a live audience (which included executive producer and narrator Colin Farrell) was fantastic. They laughed, cried, and rooted for our players. It was very much a hometown project – led by producer Ted Leonsis and Washington Life Magazine CEO Soroush Shehabi who helped bring in Ted and his amazing group of D.C. “filmanthropists” who are committed to making movies that matter.
Sundance has become a second home for filmmakers and guerrilla marketers. (Photo by David Shechter)
Oakenfold dishes up the tasty tunes, roadies are busy setting up drum kits, guitars are being brought out, and a sound technician is feverishly checking cords and wire. The room is pumped to see one of the world’s best rock bands play in a basement in Park City. It doesn’t happen. Word comes down that the lads have been enjoying themselves a bit too much and they’re concerned that the performance might find its way to YouTube faster than U2 3D hits the theaters nationwide. How far have we come, I wonder, when rock bands forgo late night jam sessions in favor of better branding? Some of the best music ever was recorded this way. But, alas, no Rattle and Hum tonight.
Alongside the Kicking It contingent, localproducers Norman Dreyfuss, Cecchi and Pat Rhodes saw their film Red accepted to Sundance this year. It’s not the first time the production trio has scaled the snowy peaks of independent cinema. Last year, the team cut their Sundance teeth after Fox Searchlight and The Weinstein Company snatched up their dramatic feature La Misma Luna (Under the Same Moon) in an intense bidding war. The film opens March 19 at AMC theaters nationwide Washington Life will sponsor a special premiere screening of the film at AMC Georgetown followed by an after party at Maté Lounge on March 11 (any producer who has had films accepted to Sundance in consecutive years deserves a few mango maritnis!) This year’s project, Red, is a quirky and dark story about Avery (Brian Cox), a middle-aged
man whose 14-year-old dog, Red, falls victim to the mindless pranks of a few locals. In a Die-Hard-meets-OldYeller mash-up, Avery sets out to exact an apology, but the situation soon escalates to something far worse. Producer Cecchi was one of the lucky Washingtonians invited to the Chefdance debut of Teatro Goldoni head chef Nicola Amroune. The annual culinary feast, founded by Harry O’s owner Kenny Griswold, runs nightly throughout the ten days of the festival. Each evening atChefdance, in the cozy confines of Harry O’s brick-lined cellar space, chefs from around the globe stake their claim to be world’s best. This year, as last, celebrity natural food personality Bethenny Frankel was the hostess given the enviable task of selecting ten world-famous chefs to prepare private, exclusive, signature dinners for 350 celebrities, socialites, entertainment industry giants, musicians, and major media outlets. Previous celebrity chefs included Rocco DiSpirito and Tyler Florence. It was an important night for Amourne and Teatro Goldoni owners Michael Kosmides and Jose Garcia, who seemed right at home posing for photo-ops with actors Esai Morales, Armand Assante and Amy Brenneman – who came together with her husband, Lemony Snicket’s director Brad Silberling. Brenneman co-stared in the feature Downloading Nancy, which competed in the dramatic competition this year. Silberling is currently in pre-production for the feature adaptation of the ’80s Sunday morning television classic Land of the Lost. Get your super groovy Sleestack costume pre-ordered now for the film’s 2009 release – one cannot live on independent film alone!
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