a film by Róbert I Douglas
2005 | 84 mins | Iceland
›› Eleven Men Out - Strákarnir Okkar
coming out in the so-called beautiful game.
Eleven Men Out by Róbert I Douglas Not content with backpage fame, Ottar, star of the local pro football team decides to OUT himself to frontpage glory, courtesy of an interview with a journalist minutes after the whistle blew on yet another winning game. All of which arrives as news to his teammates, let alone his troubled adolescent son Magnus, ex-wife Gugga, a former Miss Iceland now turned full-time alcoholic, not to mention his family and inparticular his father Eiríkur, who just happens to be on the teams' bigoted board of directors.

Finding himself excluded from the side as a result of his sexuality and inparticular his decision to be open about it, Ottar realises that if he wishes to continue his love of the game, then he must join a team lower down the league. Only Ottar is not the only gay member of this amateur side as two others are out to one and all, a number that starts to rapidly increase as attracted by the teams' sexual openness, more gay lads join, only to see the straights of the troupe promptly head in the opposite direction!

Eleven Men Out by Róbert I Douglas Never intended to be a gay team, it soon ends up as one. Only this bunch of sporting lads do not want to preach a political message, preferring instead to simply play football, that is if anyone is willing to play against them. For with each match won by forfeit, the question is not so much when will they get a chance to play, but rather how long can they hold on to their newfound star player, given Ottars' former team whilst ill at ease with his sexuality, are only too willing to embrace his ability to score - on the field!

Like the Sherry Hormann mirror feature Balls, here writer and director Róbert I Douglas has crafted a global charmer that courageously charts the difficulties of being OUT in the sporting arena. Only political purists may well be disappointed, for whilst Douglas does comment on a profession in which it remains solely acceptable to engage in man-to-man contact on the playing field, but not off it, he prefers to play the whole scenario for laughs, being too preoccupied with the homophobic reactions from Ottars' son, ex-wife and family to seriously tackle the issue of sporting homophobia.

Then again, this is somewhat of a rarity. Not in terms of charting the familiar theme of the repercussions that being true to thyself, has on friends and family. But rather in showing the red card to sexual intolerance in the so-called beautiful game; albeit in comical fashion. For thanks to its wry humour and upbeat approach to coming OUT to play, this Icelandic delight scores big time, even when set against the almost perpetual rain that seems to dominate the Icelandic weather front! Anyone for balls?
screened as part of the 20th London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2006
starring: Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, Lilja Nótt Thórarinsdóttir, Arnaldur Ernst, Helgi Björnsson,
Sigurthur Skúlason, Thorsteinn Bachmann, Björk Jakobsdóttir, Pattra Sriyanonge,
Marius Sverrisson, Damon Younger, Nanna Ósk Jónsdóttir,
Hilmar Jonsson, Pétur Einarsson
Copyright 2008 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #117
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