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Nearly three years after premiering at South by Southwest, PELADA is doing well and has screened in many countries across the world, from Qatar to Poland. We’ve been overwhelmed by the response that pickup has generated–in addition to some generous reviews of our film (check out this one by James Dall on ESPN), we’ve received wonderful emails from viewers who have told us their own pickup tales, fantastic accounts of games played everywhere, with anyone. Thank you so much for sharing your stories.
We, the Pelada crew, are doing well. Ryan’s new film, Good Ol’ Freda (http://www.goodolfreda.com/) , centered on the never-before-told stories of the Beatles’ longtime friend and secretary, will premiere at SXSW this March. Rebekah (aka Ferg) has her own production company in San Francisco–check out her website at www.rfilmsprod.com. Luke is practicing environmental law at a small firm in Newport Beach. And I’m teaching writing classes at Laguna College of Art and Design and Orange Coast College.
Finally, Luke and I are expecting a baby this summer. Despite some envisioned headaches involving pronunciation, we intend to name the kid–boy or girl–Xavi, after the Barcelona center-mid whom we are both mildly obsessed with, drawn to his subtle grace.
We love hearing pickup stories and would love to hear more in the comments section.
We’ve spent the last five months in the States, editing down 120 hours of footage from South America and finding the funds to continue the trek. On May 28th, we take off for Europe and Africa. We’ll hit England, France, Italy, Germany, and Hungary, and we’ll watch Spain play Sweden in Innsbruck, Austria. We’ll spend a week in East Jerusalem before heading to Africa, where we’ll visit the Pyramids in Cairo, the slums of Nairobi, the World Cup stadium in Cape Town, and the rural coastline of Ghana.
San Pedro Prison sits behind San Pedro Plaza–a bustling square in the center of La Paz. Couples sit on benches around a fountain, kids chase futbol pelotas in the grass, and women set up stands for the Thursday through Sunday bread market. Our hostel is on the side of the square opposite to the prison.
At the infamous San Pedro Prison, the inmates are in charge. Though the guards patrol the outside, they do not enter the inside. Within the high walls, San Pedro inmates run their own society. There are wives and children, market stalls, and men selling ice cream, toy trinkets and cocaine. Like the outside world, you need money to get by. Even cells must be bought–if you have no money, you sleep beneath the starry sky.
On the grassy area outside the bodega, between the Malbec grapes and the Cabernet Sauvignon, where Emilio’s sister got married and where the ducks come when they are tired of the pond, we play a partido as the sun sets behind the Andes.
Emilio and Antonio unwind the garden hose into one sideline, the vineyards serving as the other. Overturned buckets act as goals. When they pick teams, they tell us, “This is our tradition.” Raul and Miguel walk towards each other from about twenty paces apart like they are on a tightrope or in some kind of reverse duel. With every step, Raul says, “Pan” and Miguel says “Queso.” Pan, Queso, Pan, Queso…until Raul’s foot lands on Miguel’s and he gets first pick.
When Luke rockets a ball into the grapes, they joke, “Dont worry, it´s only a couple thousand pesos worth of Malbec.”
They are a group of guys brought together through wine: Emilio is a landscape artchitect and grape consultant, Raul is an economist and professor who analyzes wine tourism, Antonio is a bodega architect, and Lucas and Paulo develop vineyards. Some grew up on vineyards, learning the art from their grandfathers, others came to it on their own. Together, they want to one day make their own wine. For now, the play futbol, have post game asados, and tell us, “It is better to drink wine after the game than before.”
All of a sudden, we found ourselves standing on top of a sand dune. There were mountains, a winding shoreline, and a harbor with fishing boats lilting to the right. The water was teal and there were islands in the distance. It was as picturesque as the Virgin Islands or any other top tourist destination, only it was empty–except for the horse cart in the distance and the dog at our side.
We’d taken an all night bus ride to Curitiba, a four hour bus ride to Floripa, and another two hour bus ride on a local bus down dirt roads, stopping every so often to pick up school kids. We knew we were headed for a pousada in a fishing village where they have pick up games on a sand bank formed where the diverging river meets the ocean. We did not know it would feel like paradise or that a small tan-colored dog would follow us everywhere: when we went to the grocery store, she patiently waited outside the door; when we played and filmed within the yellow goalposts further down the beach, she sat beside our camera bags; when we returned from a day out, she ran down the beach to greet us.
In São Paulo, we search for Nenê, who played with Gwendolyn for Santos Futebol Club. We take a ten-minute taxi to the metro station, ride for fifteen-minutes, change lines, take another thirty-minute ride, exit at Jabaquara, have an hour-long bus ride to Ferrazópolis, meet Nenê at the station, and catch a bus to her house. “If this were Europe, you’d have gone through three different countries,” Nenê’s mom says. “Here, you are still in São Paulo.”
Her family–mother, father, eight brothers and sisters, and a dozen or so nieces and nephews–live in the two houses next door to each other. When they ask about our families and we convey that they are spread out, they ask us, puzzled, “Why?” We all feel kind of stumped.
In Santos, we worry our movie will be about us getting fat around the world: here we are in Trinidad, all fairly lean, here we are in Brazil, showing signs of being fed extravagantly by unbelievable hosts. To combat the massive intakes of food, we nix taxis and buses and go on 6 or 7 km walks between destinations. Santos is divided into regions by seven canals and we count each of them as we walk along the beach garden, ranked by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest of its kind. Gwendolyn steps in wet concrete, literally leaving her footprint on Brazil. Ryan’s stepping-in-something story is worse: as Rebekah starts shooting a game, Ryan walks off to scout out a wide-angle shot. He stands there for some time, pondering different angles of the quadra, questioning the inclusion of a tree, studying the light. He turns to walk back, feels his foot slip, and realizes that for the past ten minutes, he’d been standing in a pile of dog poop, the only pile of dog poop anywhere around.
We leave in September for our first leg: three months of playing and filming in Trinidad & Tobago, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia, & Peru. We’ll have a rough cut for you to see in March, provided we don’t get robbed and shot for our equipment, arrested for filming in areas we’re not allowed, or devoured by piranhas in the Amazon. (But if that last one has to happen to one of us, we hope it’s Rebekah.)
In the meantime, we’ll be honing our foot skills in Asheville parking lots, using youtube to track down South American tricksters, trying our best not to break ridiculously expensive equipment, and of course, raising more money.