Last evening, I had the great pleasure to attend a Santa Clara University screening of Gringos at the Gate, an independent film about the rich soccer history and rivalry between the U.S. and Mexico. I walked to my car with only one word repeating in my mind: Wow!
One of the producers is Michael Whalen, Associate Professor of Communications at Santa Clara University. He teaches film and television production and history. Based on what I saw last night, he’s a tremendous exemplar to his students and other professionals.
This is a remarkable production. Every aspect of it: writing, music, editing, sound, etc., was first rate.
The story was compelling and was told by soccer players, fans on both sides, coaches, sports writers, educators and others who could add historical perspective. The film helped me understand:
- What it means to be a Mexican playing soccer in Mexico
- What it means to be a Mexican-American playing soccer in the U.S.
- What it means to be a Mexican-American playing soccer against Mexico
- How soccer is THE only professional sport in Mexico–it means everything to the people of Mexico
- What it means to Mexico to be beaten by the U.S. and to beat the U.S.
- How the U.S. soccer program has evolved to match and meet Mexico on the world stage
- The tug Mexican-American fans have over whether to root for the U.S. or Mexico during matches–this isn’t a trivial issue for individuals, their families and other Mexican-Americans
Imagine the soccer Super Bowl being played in Mexico between the U.S. and Mexico with over 100,00 fans at the game. Further imagine that only 300 of the fans attending were from the U.S. Not a typo. 300. It happened!
This documentary film was filmed in 3 locations and had a total production cost of $40,000. The film’s value far exceeds the production cost. Kickstarter was a key part of helping to obtain funding for the project. Santa Clara University contributed post-production facilities and resources.
I’ve vacationed in Mexico and know the Mexican people to be proud of their country and their heritage. And, now I understand why they are so fiercely loyal to their soccer team. After seeing this film, I’ll never watch soccer the same way again. I have a much better understanding of the real story as a consequence of this film.
This is a fantastic documentary: compelling, rich, deep, colorful and exciting to watch. Congratulations to all involved in producing this wonderful film.
There are more details about the film and awards it has won on the website. The film is also available for purchase on the website.
Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com
[Full disclosure: I am a graduate of Santa Clara University (MBA) and a member of the Leadership Board for the College of Arts and Sciences.]