ICELAND / 2005 / English, Icelandic, others / Color / Video / 82 min
Director, Script: Olaf de Fleur Johannesson
Photography: Ragnar Santos
Editing: Benedikt Johannesson, Olaf de Fleur Johannesson
Music: Bardi Johannesson
Producers: Ragnar Santos, Olaf de Fleur Johannesson, Benedikt Johannesson
Executive Producers: Skuli Fr. Malmquist, Thor S. Sigurjonsson
Production Companies: Poppoli Pictures Iceland, Zik Zak Filmworks
World Sales: Bavaria Film International
“Africa United” is an amateur football club in Iceland led by Zico, a failed Moroccan businessman. This multinational team of migrant laborers and exchange students from Africa and Icelanders is united by one unmistakable characteristic: they are terrible at the sport. Overcoming a lack of funds and repeated infighting, they practice on a snow-covered pitch to play against Morocco and Serbia, but will their love for football help them to reverse the odds? There is no secret, no mystery to their lack of ability, but these men have spirit. This is the thrilling story of a team that will not be discouraged.
[Director’s Statement] I started to read the Bible when I was nine years old seeking answers for my spiritual restlessness. Eleven years later, I found something that has proven to give me some peace of mind. The answer was to make things simple. Simplify. From that moment I’ve always been infatuated with people who complicate things for all the wrong reasons.
Football is a manifestation of simplicity, and like life itself, humans are the ones who make it complicated. The characters in my film, Africa United, live on the ultimate verge of complexity.
The members of Africa United either work low-wage jobs or are unemployed as they struggle to live the life of an immigrant in Reykjavík. They face difficulties with language, dealing with authorities, money problems, not to mention the Icelandic weather and so on.
Immigrants often bow their heads in a new country. That is why Africa United is much more than a football club. Its members believe that if they can succeed in football, that success will reflect in their lives and give them the dignity and self-confidence that leads to a good life.
Basically, this film is a simple story about the longing to succeed and to be respected.
Olaf de Fleur Johannesson
Born in 1975, Olaf de Fleur Johannesson studied physics in Reykjavík, graduating in 1995. He has since been involved in many film projects, including both feature and documentary films. After working for two years at a production company focusing primarily on TV documentaries, he founded the independent production company Poppoli Pictures Iceland. With Johannesson as director and producer, the team created the feature documentaries Proximitas and Shining Star, the latter winning the Icelandic Film Awards in 2004. Currently, he is working on a feature documentary ten years in the making about an unusual Buddhist monk who decided to get married. Icelandic film critics regard him as one of the biggest directing talents in the country.