"I Am Somebody" a docu-film on the rise of street children as footballers to go compete at an international moot, has won the 'Guirlande d'Honneur', a film award at the 40th Sports Movies and Television – Milano International FICTS Fest.
While Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy only takes production credits for the film, the production has been directed by Jamillah van der Hulst from the Netherlands, with assistant director Dina Amin from Palestine and Rio unit director Maria Clara Costa from Brazil.
It focuses on the stories of six footballers from the streets of Brazil, Bangladesh, Pakistan and a refugee camp in Palestine who go on to represent their countries at the Street Child World Cup in Qatar. The film was shot in five countries to cover children's journeys before, during and after the World Cup, where 28 teams of boys and girls participated. Brazil won the girls' tournament, while in the boys' category, Egypt beat Pakistan in the final on penalties.
The film also featured an appearance from English football icon David Beckham. Beckham made a name with English club Manchester United and was part of a golden generation alongside the likes of Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes under the tutelage of Sir Alex Ferguson. Beckham went on to become a Galacticos at Florentino Perez's Real Madrid. He played for AC Milan and Paris Saint Germain before hanging up his boots. After retiring, he moved to America, where he owns the Inter Miami franchise, which currently boasts Lionel Messi on its roster.
In a statement released after the announcement of the prize, Obaid-Chinoy was quoted as saying: "Our journey to capture the stories of these young talents on the streets of Pakistan, showcasing their determination to shine at the World Cup, and proving that they are just as capable as anyone else, serves as an inspiration for all of us. It's films like these that make you realize that it is so important to create opportunities for young people. We're excited to share the film with the rest of the world."
On working with street children, Hulst said, "These children show resilience, and despite the extremely challenging circumstances, they keep hope for a better future. The children in I Am Somebody opened up to us, and their strong characters and touching stories are an inspiration to everyone they meet."
Before the screening in Milan, "I Am Somebody" was already shown at the Festival do Rio (Brazil), Cambridge Film Festival (UK), the Women in Film and Television event in Cyprus, Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (USA), and the Asia Pacific Screen Awards.
The film will next travel to Bangladesh for screening at the Dhaka International Film Festival early next year.