Synopsis by Mark Deming
Acclaimed visual artists Douglas Gordon and Phillipe Parreno turn their attentions to filmmaking -- and one of Europe's leading soccer stars -- in this offbeat documentary. Zinedine Zidane is among the most celebrated athletes in European football; playing for Real Madrid, the Frenchman has earned a reputation for graceful yet aggressive play and a confrontational style. Gordon and Parreno have made a film about Zidane, but viewers of Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait will learn nothing about his life off the field, and only so much about his work on it. Instead of telling Zidane's life story, the filmmakers set up 17 cameras around the field (with the help of cinematographer Darius Khondji) for a April 23, 2005, game against Villarreal and carefully followed Zidane throughout the game, even when he wasn't in play. The subsequent footage was used to create a portrait in motion of the athlete, much in the manner of a painter or photographer, accompanied by excerpts from recorded interviews in which the footballer discusses his attitude toward the game and his feelings on the field. Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (aka Zidane: Un Portrait du XXIe Siecle) was screened at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival as part of the Visions series, devoted to maverick filmmaking from around the world.