The established Swedish documentary filmmakers and brothers Magnus Gertten and Fredrik Gertten have joined forces to direct Becoming Zlatan, about the formative years of football superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The film had its world premiere at IDFA this week, ahead of its Swedish theatrical launch on February 17, 2016 via TriArt.
Launched on November 22 at IDFA in Amsterdam as part of the festival’s Masters programme, the film is the third collaboration of the Gertten brothers who share a passion for football and whose previous joint filmmaking efforts -Blådåran/True Blue (1998) and Vägen tillbaka-Blådårar 2/The Way Back-True Blue 2 (2002) co-directed by Stefan Berg, focused on the club Malmö FF where Ibrahimovic made his debut. “We were lucky to be able to film him for two years, from when he starting his career at 17” says Magnus. “We had been sitting on great published and unpublished material and decided to make a film focusing on Zlatan. The film is really about his break though years, from when he left Malmö FF in 1999 to join Ajax in Amsterdam, and then the Juventus in Italy, which is where he made his name.”
The Swedish football star was not involved in the production and doesn’t take part in new interviews, but many of his former co-players, trainers and coaches give testimonies. Becoming Zlatan also includes unique material never published before from Dutch archives focusing on the three years when Zlatan was at Ajax.
The footballer still comes out through this portrait as a very enigmatic person, but as the Gertten brothers had access to him before he became a legend, the film offers glimpses of who he really is. “Becoming Zlatan does open the door into Zlatan’s life, before he closed it and built a fortress around him, notes Magnus.
The film was produced by Sweden’s Lennart Ström (Auto Images) and Margarete Jangård (WG Film), in co-production with Keydocs in the Netherlands and Indyca in Italy, with co-financing from SVT, VPRO, and RAI.
Magnus Gertten’s other film Every Face Has a Name is also screening at IDFA in the Best of Fest programme. The film about the thousands of refugees who arrived in Sweden after being freed from concentration camps has travelled to more than 20 world festivals since its launch at Gothenburg in January. “The film’s relevance today and impact on people is huge,” says Magnus.
Fredrik Gertten’s own film Bikes vs Cars is also touring world festivals and is now available on Vimeo on Demand for renting or downloading in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland. Vimeo on Demand just acquired US rights and will have a limited exclusive window before the film’s theatrical release via Kino Lorber.
Every Face has a Name and Bikes vs Cars were supported by Nordisk Film & TV Fond.