Distributed by California Newsreel, Order Dept., PO Box 2284, South Burlington, VT 05407; 877-811-7495 (toll free)
Produced by David & Golias
VHS, color, 76 min.
High School - Adult
Multicultural Studies, European Studies, African Studies
Reviewed by Patricia B. McGee, Coordinator of Media Services, Volpe Library & Media Center, Tennessee Technological University
From the opening shot of a youngster using a mattock and lime to outline the boundaries of a football [soccer] field in the arid soil, it is clear that sport is a metaphor for the life of middle aged Manual Dias in Fintar o Destino,(Dribbling Fate). Mané, a middle aged tavern keeper and grandfather, was once a star goalkeeper for a local Cape Verdean team. In 1959 the Portuguese team Benfica invited him and his friend and fellow player Américo to Lisbon for tryouts. Mané, whose girlfriend Lucy was pregnant, did not go. But Américo went, presumably to stardom, success and the good life on the continent.
Mané is filled with regret when he looks back and examines his life with its great missed opportunity. When one of the young men on the team he coaches, Kalu, appears to have the potential to make it in the European leagues, Mané is determined to make sure that the young man will have his opportunity. Kalu is not sure he wants to go to Portugal, but like most young Cape Verdeans, he's eager to leave this impoverished island nation. Mané loots the family savings to buy his ticket to Lisbon to see Benfica play a Cup Finals match and to arrange for Kalu to have a tryout with the team. He refuses to allow Lucy, who is anxious to see their son after ten years absence, to accompany him.
The reality of Portugal is vastly different from his expectations. Mané's son Alberto reiterates his dislike of football and tells his father Mané was never there for him. Américo ended up playing for small teams that did not pay well, wasted his money and now lives in poverty, for as he says, "things aren't the way we dream they will be." Mané is forced to see the Cup Finals on television after a ticket scalper cheats him. His one success is that Kalu will have a chance at Benfica's open tryouts.
In this gentle tale of a man who, at the midpoint in his life is trying to understand how and why things have happened the way they have, Mané comes to understand his own obsession and to appreciate his life in Cape Verde. Even though his family has not understood, and may never understand his obsession with the game, he is proud of having been a football player. Mané forges a tenuous link to his son's family and returns to Cape Verde knowing that he does not regret his life. He now knows that Lucy was wrong when she said, "You don't value what you have."
This bittersweet film with its panoramic vistas of Cape Verde illuminates universal issues of family relations, intergenerational conflicts and deferred dreams that cross cultural boundaries. However, underlying the story is the unique problem posed by Cape Verde itself. For young people to prosper they must leave their home; the islands simply lack the resources to be self-sustaining.
A minor technical quibble: occasionally the subtitles blend illegibly into the foreground of the film, and there are a couple of misspellings in the text.
Recommended for undergraduate Humanities Programs, Portuguese Studies, Post- Colonial African Studies Programs and for larger public libraries.