Review: BLANQUIAZUL, A Cheerful Tribute To A Soccer Team And Its Fans

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Review: BLANQUIAZUL, A Cheerful Tribute To A Soccer Team And Its Fans
Blanquiazul, from director Luis Castro Serrano, is the first Peruvian wide release of 2015. It's also a documentary, a genre which has been largely neglected by local directors (and distributors), save for Javier Corcuera, whose Sigo Siendo, about our country's musicians, got a well-received, rare theatrical release in 2013.

Founded in 1901, Alianza Lima is one of the most popular soccer teams in the national league. Its rabid fanbase has stuck it out with the squad through highs and lows, and this movie is intended as a simple, moving tribute to those people who put on the official colors of blue and white every week and head out to the stadium to cheer on the players.

Even though the national team hasn't been to a World Cup since 1982, Peruvians are still incredibly passionate about soccer, and the movie portrays this fandom through a number of amusing stories. There's a family living in the Urubamba Valley whose house has been converted into a makeshift shrine to the team; every object, from curtains to furniture to probably the toilet seats is adorned with Alianza's emblem. A clown entertains children in remote communities adorned with a bright red wig and a blue and white jersey, extolling the team's virtues to his young charges; and so on. It's an upbeat portrayal of fandom, and anyone who's passionate about sports will surely relate.

Soccer fan organizations - called barras bravas, our own version of soccer hooliganism - are sometimes regarded as dangerous, really just thinly veiled criminal gangs. It's a pressing issue in any soccer match, but Castro decides to ditch the darker aspects and instead focus on the positive. This is a vindication of the real fans, the ones who regard the sport as an integral part of their lives, one that gives them a sense of community. For some of them, it even equates to a religious experience.

This isn't meant to be an overview of the team's history. There's barely any mention of notable players or milestones, save for an appropriately respectful tribute to the victims of the 1987 plane crash off the coast of Lima that killed a great number of Alianza's players, an event that still haunts the team's supporters to this day. This is a movie strictly about fandom, and it's largely made for the fans.

If Blanquiazul ever ends up getting a worldwide release, it would probably help in explaining to all those people who don't get the appeal of soccer just why South Americans are so passionate about 22 guys kicking a leather ball around a field.

Blanquiazul opens in Peruvian theatres on 15 January.
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BlanquiazulfootballLuis Castro SerranoPerusoccer

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