Brutal, eye opening and provocative. These are phrases very rarely associated with a football documentary but Forever Pure is no ordinary piece of film.
Following the fortunes of Beitar Jerusalem during the 2012/2013 season, director Maya Zinshtein experiences first hand a club in turmoil on and off the pitch. The primary focus is the signing of two Chechnyan footballers for the club and the subsequent anti-Arabic fall out, lead by the club supporters, right wing radical ‘ultras’ known as La Familia, which nearly destroys the club. Add to this a corrupt chairman with no interest in the team, a fall from grace of a club hero and progressively worse performances on the pitch by a beleaguered team and you have the most toxic of situations, ready to explode at any moment. The entire scenario is captured near perfectly. It is shot in a way to cover the angles of all parties and allows the viewer to decide how they feel about them, whether that is sympathy, empathy or contempt. It is worth noting that whilst this is a sporting environment, football is merely a backdrop to this entire piece, with the focus being primarily on the individuals involved in a situation that is beyond their control. For the entire run time you can feel the tension being dialled up, and it is impossible most of the time to guess what will happen next, as this is real life and the unpredictability of human nature makes things very uncomfortable at times (moments such as the fans chant of ‘we are the most racist team in the country’ in front of children being potentially unnerving). The only issue, if any, is how some of the facts are presented. The inference is that the club had never signed Muslim players before but this was not the case. If ever evidence was required to prove that politics and sport go hand in hand, this could be exhibit A. This is an 85 minute microcosm of today’s society, and not just in Israel. The rise of the right wing is happening across Europe and this film shows how a small group, stood fast in their beliefs, can rise in the power hierarchy very quickly. Forever Pure achieves what any good documentary should; it makes you think about the situation and ask questions, both of yourself and the subject matter in question. A must-see documentary for sports fans, political historians and anyone with an interest in human nature at its most base level.
‘Forever Pure’ is available to stream on demand from 7 August.