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After the Cup: Sons of Sakhnin United

A sporting moment only to be found in the Middle East: soccer fans chanting “Allah Akhbar” in Palestinian Arabic when their star scored the against-the-odds winning goal in the Israeli Cup final — and the goal scorer was an Israeli Jew. Sons of Sakhnin United covers the journey of B’Nai Sakhnin, the first mostly Arab soccer team to become champions of Israel, in the year after they win the Cup. Now they have to prove that wasn’t a fluke, but more importantly it’s the year where attention is focused on them, and they can use that position to speak about peace and unity. As the Arab Israeli conflict swirls around them, as Israel discusses plans to withdraw from Gaza, and Palestinians come to terms with the death of Yasir Arafat, this mixed team from a small, poor town in the Galilee plays on with the weight of symbolism and expectation on their shoulders. Can the team stand together under the spotlight of the world’s media? Can their captain play for the Israeli national team without being heckled by the team’s right-wing Jewish fans? Can a team playing a game with no more actual consequence than an ending with one winner and one loser, bring people together for 90 minutes and suspend the hatred and animosity that has become a daily feature of their lives? [Synopsis courtesy of Wisconsin Film Festival]