I spoke with Director Susan Koch, whose new film Kicking It is about the power of sports to change lives. Kicking it is premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival. Click here to learn more about Kicking It and to view clips of the movie.
JB: How did you get involved with this project?
SK: As a documentary filmmaker, I am always on the lookout for stories that are both important and entertaining. I first heard about the Homeless World Cup while reading a blog from the World Economic Forum in 2006. At first glance, it sounds like a wild idea; I was intrigued. The more I learned about the Homeless World Cup, the more interested I became and the more sense it made—when you think about it, many of the world’s best football [soccer] players come from the street, so I realized there would be a pretty high level of sports competition. I told Neil Barrett, my director of photography, about it—being a Brit and huge football fan, Neil was instantly on board. We then set off to start making the film.
JB: What was the response to Kicking It at Sundance?
SK: Seeing the response of a live audience for the first time was phenomenal. At our premiere, the audience totally “got it”—they laughed, cried, cheered, and rooted for our players. We were also thrilled to sell it to ESPN Films, as well as Liberation Entertainment and Netflix.
JB: It’s so inspiring to see these stories from around the world. Have you been able to stay in touch with any of the subjects since completing the film? Will any of them be at Tribeca?
SK: Yes, I stay in touch with all of them—although it’s harder to be in direct contact with some of them given the circumstances of their lives. For a few of them, I am in touch with them through their coaches who give me periodic updates. I was recently invited to the Russian team captain’s wedding, but unfortunately couldn’t make it. I hear frequently from Craig, the U.S. player—who is doing great. He will be at Tribeca, as will the U.S. Team Manager, Lawrence Cann. We are also bringing Arkady, the Russian team manager to Tribeca. He is a very special person—he was homeless for eleven years, started the Russian team, and played on the team for two years. [There are now more than eight homeless soccer teams throughout Russia and Siberia.]
JB: Do you have any other feature documentary projects in the works?
SK: Yes. Always! I am starting work on one about the HIV/AIDS epidemic here in my hometown of Washington, DC. Most people don’t know—and don’t believe it when you tell them—that DC has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the country. I also have another documentary that is in development that is not quite ready to talk about—but stay tuned.