a film by Sherry Hormann
2004 | 102 mins | Germany
›› Balls - Männer Wie Wir - aka Guys & Balls
a comical look at homophobia in the so-called beautiful game
Balls by Sherry Hormann Finding himself rejected by his teammates who blame him and his now OUT sexuality, courtesy of a drunken pass at another player, for their failure to secure league promotion, Ecki promptly heads off to Dortmund. And who can blame him, what with a father unable to come to terms with a gay football loving son and a mother whose open arms of homosexual acceptance are the sole ones to be found in a town seemingly steeped in sexual intolerance. Yet the welcoming smile from his sister is soon to turn into shock, when she learns that Ecki has challenged his former team to a 'straights v gays' match in four weeks time.

Only if finding a group of openly gay football players proved to be difficult, then turning them into a winning formation is a more uphill struggle. Thankfully on hand to help Ecki out is Coach Karl, a disillusioned former professional player of the '65 / '66 season, whose initial reluctance to let a bunch of gay boys play on his beloved turf is soon replaced by a renewed interest in the game, inspired as he is by their willingness to train and inparticular by the proficiency of a pair of Brazilian players who do their country proud. Then again, so too does male nurse Sven; a man who has set his sights on Ecki, that is if Ecki has pride enough to return his affection in public and inparticular on match day, namely the perfect opportunity for Ecki to show his former teammates that gays can score both on and off the field!

Balls by Sherry Hormann Like the Icelandic treat Eleven Men Out, here director Sherry Hormann has crafted a work that highlights the ingrained prejudice that exists to this day in a profession in which few, if any professional players feel at ease to publicly acknowledge their sexuality to be anything other than that of heterosexual. Yet such a meaningful sermon is delivered comic fashion, being heavily reliant on stereotypes and here cue all out camp limp wrist action, leather men, chains, not to mention the odd butch dyke and frankly every aspect of human sexuality that Kinsey made notes on!

Thankfully the cast inject their characters with a genuine warmth and charm, along the way making this cliché-laden work - work. For there is a real sense of camaraderie in this diverse bunch of football playing lads, with Maximilian Brückner's straight edge portrayal of Ecki nicely countered by the beckoning eye movements of David Rott as cute guy Sven. For here Hormann has checked many of the boxes required for a film festival favourite, even if the use of some rather crude homophobic jokes sours the mix. Then again, such remarks are as in life, not the views of the so-called beautiful game, but individual supporters, given this is but a vibrant variant of the triumphant underdog scenario, let alone a film in which the father and son relationship is given specific prominence and in more ways than just one. Funny, laced with football action and complete with the odd gay kiss or two, here's a work in which the perfect match has more to do with what's playing in the heart, than on the field! Delightful.
available on DVD as part of the Peccadillo Pictures catalogue
starring: Maximilian Brückner, Lisa Maria Potthoff, David Rott, Rolf Zacher, Christian Berkel,
Dietmar Bär, Saskia Vester, Charly Hübner, Markus John, Billey Demirtas,
Andreas Schmidt, Michael von Burg, Max Hopp, Hans Löw
Copyright 2008 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #167
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