TIFF Docs

Forever Pure

Maya Zinshtein

Foreverpure 01

Filmmaker Maya Zinshtein embeds herself inside the locker room of Jerusalem’s Beitar football club, which became a flashpoint for controversy in 2012 when the signing of two Muslim players brought down the racist wrath of the team’s long-time fans.

Beitar Jerusalem Football Club is the most controversial sports team in Israel. Loyal fans, known as La Familia, take pride in Beitar being the only team in the Israeli Premier League that has never fielded an Arab player. In 2012, team owner Arcadi Gaydamak, a Russian-born billionaire and failed mayoral candidate in Jerusalem, signs two Muslim players from Chechnya. Their presence turns La Familia into opponents of their own team and initiates an ideological contest with wide ripples.

Filmmaker Maya Zinshtein embeds herself inside the locker room and among the fans, as they are caught up in the manic and intersecting worlds of sports, religious fanaticism, and Israeli politics. The young Chechen players, Zaur Sadayev and Dzhabrail Kadiyev, isolated from their homeland, are taunted by calls of "death to Arabs" and live under constant threat. The Israeli players are caught between loyalty for their new teammates and allegiance to their old fans. When team captain Ariel Harush attempts to bridge the divide, he pays dearly for it.

Forever Pure is a disturbing portrait of a society driven to extremism, where hundreds of spectators gleefully chant "we are the most racist team," and where Israel's defence minister Avigdor Liberman legitimizes the hostility by praising the club as an embodiment of nationalism. At a time when societies all over the world are bracing against rising waves of racism and ethnic persecution, Forever Pure is a cautionary tale of mob behaviour, and a sympathetic look at the human beings caught in the middle.

THOM POWERS

location_on Scotiabank 13

theaters Regular

location_on Scotiabank 10

verified_user Industry

location_on Scotiabank 10

theaters Regular

location_on Scotiabank 13

theaters Regular