FUTBOLITO: A JOURNEY THROUGH CENTRAL AMERICA (directed by Robbie Leppzer, Turning Tide Productions, Wendell, MA) is an engaging video chronicle of five idealistic North American athletes who ventured to Guatemala and Nicaragua to "wage peace" with the popular new foot game known widely as "Hacky Sack."
While volunteering in Guatemala with Peace Brigades International during 1987, social worker Daniel Botkin discovered that footbag (nicknamed "el futbolito" or 'baby soccer ball' by several Spanish speaking enthusiasts) offered a remarkable medium for one "gringo" to initiate crosscultural dialogue and friendship with a variety of Central American people. Footbag is, of course, the modern incarnation of an ancient and compelling sport with roots in many cultures. Commonly played in a lively, interactive circle, "hack" has become a potent streetside symbol of diversity, inter-dependence and cooperation. Not surprisingly, the game has earned a legendary reputation for uniting strangers.
FUTBOLITO: A JOURNEY THROUGH CENTRAL AMERICA follows the FPI troupe from their training camp in rural New England through a three month expedition across Central America. On city plazas, soccer fields and in tiny Indian villages, the American athletes perform, play and teach footbag to curious Central Americans of all ages and classes. The documentary invites the viewer to join in these impromptu cultural encounters generated in the streets by el futbolito. Through the eyes of the North Americans, the viewer is also offered a compelling glimpse of the timeless and beautiful native (Mayan) culture and of their ongoing struggle to survive into Guatemala's next century.
FUTBOLITO: A JOURNEY THROUGH CENTRAL AMERICA celebrates the universal language of play as well as the untapped power of people's diplomacy. These athletes' project as well as the resulting video-documentary employ an unlikely medium, yet succeed in raising timely, human questions about hatred, prejudice and the search for ethnic tolerance. Through the sharing of a cooperative game on the streets of Central America, six common, American citizens attempt to dissolve cultural barriers and stereotypes while planting seeds of friendship and mutual respect.
"FUTBOLITO shows how a simple game can break the ice between people who speak different languages and have different cultural traditions. This film about down-to-earth peacemaking sends a positive, constructive message to young people everywhere." -- David Conrad, Professor of Education; Co-Director, Center for World Education, University of Vermont
"FUTBOLITO presents a compelling portrait of cross-cultural communication. The idea that games can serve as a bridge between cultures has immediate appeal to young people. The film was inspirational for my beginning Spanish students. It contributed to their development of a sense of the ultimate purpose of language learning. I highly recommend FUTBOLITO for use in middle school and high school classrooms." -- Beth Rubin, social studies and Spanish teacher, Serramonte High School, Daly City, CA
"FUTBOLITO received an enthusiastic response from my students. I can foresee using this video in a multicultural curriculum that emphasizes commonalities while valuing differences. Our physical education program would also benefit from the inclusion of this video, which portrays a game like footbag in the context of a cultural bridge and cooperative effort." -- Kirsten Lindblom, 6th grade teacher, Marks Meadow School, Amherst, MA
"FUTBOLITO is an inspiring and entertaining portrait of real people making a real difference. This is a very important video that everyone should see." -- Peter Irish, Five Time World Footbag Freestyle Champion.