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A film by Paolo Casalis
Available 2018

Produced by    :   Produzioni Fuorifuoco
Genre    :   Documentary, Sport, Football, Bio, Africa
Duration    :   70'

An all-refugee national football team competes in the World Cup to break the indifference on Darfur humanitarian crisis.

In 2004 Gabriel Stauring, founder of N.G.O. I-ACT, is among the firsts to move to Africa - always with his camera in his hand- to help the thousands of refugees from Darfur.
Eight years after, Gabriel realizes that nobody is any longer interested in his mission.
What could he do, to capture YOUR attention?
In 2012, he creates "Darfur United", a soccer team made of young refugees living in the camps of Chad, representing an unexisting state.
"These are not refugees", Gabriel provokes, "don't look at them as refugees, this is Just Football".
And it works!
For the first time, people and media give attention to them.
Moubarag and Ismail, who were part of the team who competed in the World Cup for un-recognized nations, now live in Sweden. Tthey asked asylum after having escaped during a tounament, today they're trying to complete a long and complex path, from refugees to citizens.

In Collaboration with Darfur United i-ACT
Under the Patronage of Darfur United Under the Patronage of Intalians for Darfur
With the Interest of Darfur United with the interest of UNHCR

We're currently working at the production phase. The film will be out by th end of 2018, in DVD and Streaming format
Discover how you can help us, what we need and what you get on the film's Reelhouse page

The Film

In 2005 Gabriel Stauring, founder of NGO i-ACT, moved to Africa for the first time, to give his help to more than 280.000 refugees from Darfur who had settled in the refugee camps of Chad.
This unheard-of humanitarian crisis still continues today, though it has never been front-page news nor does it now, as the new Europe migrant crisis is covering all media.
Gabriel soon realized the world was not interested in hearing stories of war, poverty and hunger.
To raise attention, he had to search for something different and new.
In a land of war and massacres, he had to tell a unique, positive story, and to share it with the world. What does everybody in the world like? Football, that was his instant answer.
In 2011, to raise attention on Darfur crisis, Gabriel founded Darfur United, a football team made up of refugees from the 12 different camps, and his project became more precise: to use football to close the distance between the refugees and the rest of the world, to raise people's attention.
Was it a cinic decision? For sure, it worked.
Since then, Gabriel has followed the team with his camera, from the team's selection to the very first trainings, to the Kurdistan Viva World Cup 2013. No, not the prestigious FIFA World Cup, but the Conifa one, a tournament for unrecognized states and ethnic groups.
Moubarag and Ismail played respectively as midfielder and goalkeeper in the team who competed in Kurdistan, losing all matches by 10-0 or 20-0, but scoring the first, hitorical goal in Darfur history.
In 2014, during an international competition in Sweden, they escaped and asked for asylum.
Their stories are quite the opposite. On soccer fields, Ismail was always positive and smiling, while Moubarak injured his knee and didn't have a good time. Today, Moubarag speaks fluent english and swedish, works in the staff of Ostersund's football team and is well insterted in swedish society. Ismail, on the contrary, stills feels like a refugee in a foreign country, and sometimes dreams of coming back to the refugees camp.
"Not Just Football" is a film telling almost 15 years of story of his characters, from 2004 up to 2018.

Not (A refugee story) Just Football.

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    Years of war
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    Football Players
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    Documentary movie
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Discover how you can help us, what we need and what you get on the film's Reelhouse page


Film Characters

In the latest years we've all seen dozens of documentaries about refugees and refugee crisis. I've personally loved many of them, above all "Fuocoammare" by my compatriot Rosi. I tought everything had already been said on this argument, and I stayed far from it.
When I discovered the story of Darfur United I was attracted by it, but I also felt it like something "already seen". I started working at the project in early 2016 but, for these reasons, I abandoned it for some months, until when I found the key to tell this story, and it appeared to me as something unique, for two different reasons.
The first is the long and complex trajectory of the story, a narrative arc that covers almost 15 years and (unique case!) is all well documented and filmed by his own characters.
The second is the original, provocative approach used by Gabriel Stauring.
"Ok, refugee stories are sad, and people don't like sad stories, let's give them something different, something they can like". And he creates a football team made of refugees.
At a first view, there could be something cinic and even wrong in all this taught, in this approach. But only at a first view. Gabriel doesn't want to hide the refugees behind the smiling faces of a football team.
Maybe he's cinic, but not towards the refugees, but towards football. He uses football to let people talk of the refugees, to led people to view and know something they would never have explored and faced in their life: the inner life of a refugee camp, hunger, poverty, death.
The film starts from this points, and keeps them as focal points for its structure and narrative development.
Gabriel’s film-within-the -film, where many good things have been done but the film still needs to be finished, can be seen as a metaphor of Darfur refugees situation, which is still to be closed, as the emergency has never been finished.
Having Gabriel moving as “interviewer” and “film director” inside the film, we’ll avoid the usage of talking heads: the film will be made of direct dialogues and actions. We’ll follow Gabriel in his friendly meetings with the film characters, and will take advan- tage of his deep and long-lasting friendship with them.
Darfur United is a documentary based on a long story, a 10-years and not finished yet story. Darfur United is NOT a film about soccer, but soccer will have an important narrative and also esthetic role.
Soccer is the powerful glue that keeps 12 different tribes together, and the passion and hope of our characters. Soccer will be the “fil rouge” that keeps the film and its various parts united.
We will not make sportive chronicles, but surely following Darfur United’s matches and tournament will help us to develop our film, from a narrative, emotional and also aesthetical point of view.
Luckily, we have a lot of good quality archival videos for all these events, both from Gabriel Stauring and i-ACT, and from official TVs coverage of soccer matches made by CONIFA.

We’ve chosen to identify 5 Characters (Gabriel, Ismail, Moubarak, Sulyeman, Moubarak Haggar) and (in addition to the existing archival images) to follow them for one year, to tell the evolution of their stories and lives. This will led to unexpected and chang- ing stories, and will transmit this atmosphere of “unexpected” and unwritten story to the film itself.
Will Darfur United team be able to fulfill its dream, hosting an international match in the refugee camps? Will Ismail and Mou- barag be able to come back to Chad? How the story of Darfur United will end, which event will be organized by Gabriel? Darfur United will be mainly shoot in the refugee camps of Chad, but we’ll also have significant movie facts happening in Sweden, where we’ll follow one of the film’s characters.
A third location will be Kurdistan, though if only seen through archival images of the World Cup Darfur disputed in 2012. These different filming locations will generate a film with multiple narrative keys and high narrative and esthetic contrasts.
On one side, we’ll have the cold flats of northern Sweden, the white of a snowy and iced land, and our photography will turn to blue colors and chromatic range.
On the other side, we’ll have the hot refugee camps of Chad, where temperatures are so high that everything seems like going to take fire.
The story will NOT be told in chronological order. As the film structure and the order of events will not be fixed, also our visual approach will be based on unsettling choices, that will be used to emphasize the contrasts and power of our locations.

Our film’s main protagonist is, of course, Darfur United football team.
The Darfur representative football team, also called Darfur United, is an association football team representing Darfur, a region in western Sudan, founded by Gabriel Stauring in 2011. Their players all live in refugee camps in neighbouring Chad.
They have competed in the 2012 VIVA World Cup and the 2014 ConIFA World Football Cup.
Surely, they are not football champions, not at all. They’ve lost all matches 20-0, 30-0, but surely they haven’t lost the will to let people know about the drama of Darfur refugee camps, of their situation and problems.

In early 2003, two primarily Muslim non-Arab Darfuri rebel groups launched a rebellion against the government of Sudan.
The government responded to the rebellion by enlisting the help of some of the nomadic Arab tribes in Darfur, promising them land in exchange for their military allegiance. These groups formed militias known as the Janjaweed, and, with the support of the government, began wreaking havoc throughout Darfur.
Since the conflict began over ten years ago, approximately 300,000 people have lost their lives and an additional 4 million have been displaced from their homes.
Today, there are approximately 300,000 Darfuri refugees living in thirteen camps in Eastern Chad.
Sports programs, physical activity, and psychosocial support for children are all considered “non essential” by the United Nations.

3- i-ACT
i-ACT is a registered 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization based in Redondo Beach, CA
The i-ACT team visits refugee camps in Eastern Chad and provides daily video webcasting, interactive blogging, pictures, and continuous social media communication. Videos, photographs and testimonies from i-ACT are compiled and utilized to create multi-media presentations that build relationships between the survivors of Darfur and those who can act on their behalf.
Since 2005, i-ACT has visited the Darfuri refugee camps on the Chad-Sudan border more than 20 times.
i-ACT has created an all-refugee soccer team and youth academy made up of Darfuri refugees living in camps in Eastern Chad.

Not to be confused with the FIFA World Cup, every two years football players and fans meet for another, less know and almost mysterious Football World Cup.
In the CONIFA World Cup, the participating teams represent a collection of unrecognized states, ethnic groups, islands and “frozen conflict” zones.
Abkhazia, Aramean Suryoye, Kurdistan, Tamil Eelam, Darfur United, Ellan Vannin, South Ossetia, Nagorno Karabakh, Padania, Occitania... These are some of the team names.
Regions or ethnic groups not recognized as a nation, stateless people (es the Romani People team), regions and micro- nations not affiliated to FIFA. Some just want to raise awareness of their unique culture and show the world they exist or, through soccer, raise awareness about humanitarian and social crisis, conflicts and civil wars.
Others hope for greater autonomy and perhaps, one day, even a nation of their own.
“Soccer helps provide an identify for all nations, a vision of their imagined community made real”, writes sport journalist Steve Menary.

Paolo Casalis

Born in Bra (Italy), 1976.
In 2014 he’s author of Barolo Boys. The Story of a Revolution, one of the most successful italian independent documentaries of the year.

Langhe Doc - Stories of heretics in the Italy of warehouses (52’ - 2011)
The Runner (52’ - 2010)
The People of Terra Madre (26’ - 2009)

Produzioni Fuorifuoco

Produzioni Fuorifuoco is a video production and distribution house based Bra, Italy
In our filmography there are documentary movies like Barolo Boys.The Story of a Revolution and Langhe Doc. Stories of heretics in the Italy of warehouses, these last two in the nominees for David di Donatello prize, the Oscar for italian documentary movies.


i-ACT is a registered 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization based in Redondo Beach, CA
i-ACT seeks to empower individuals within communities, institutions, and governments to take personal responsibility to act on behalf of those affected by genocide, mass atrocities, and crimes against humanity.