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Ciné Sunday: Diego Maradona

Asif Kapadia

Filmmaker Asif Kapadia seems drawn to complicated figures who live their lives in the public eye, people whose talent burns brightly but who are drawn, perhaps inevitably, too close to the flames. His previous films, about Formula One driver Ayrton Senna and singer Amy Winehouse, both critical and box office hits, are regarded (certainly by the DCA cinema team) as two of the best documentaries ever made, so the bar was set high when Kapadia announced his new subject – Diego Maradona. Constructed from over 500 hours of never-before-seen footage from Maradona’s personal archive and with the full support of the man himself, this new film is another triumph.

"The glorious rise and spectacular fall of a footballing legend..."

On 5th July 1984, Diego Maradona arrived in Naples for a world-record fee. For seven years, all hell broke loose. The world’s most celebrated football icon and the most passionate but dangerous city in Europe were a perfect match for each other. On the pitch, Maradona was a genius. Off the pitch, he was treated like a God (who needed bodyguards). The charismatic Argentine loved a fight against the odds and led Napoli to their first-ever title; the stuff of dreams. But there was a price... Diego could do as he pleased while performing miracles on the pitch but as time passed, darker days closed in.

Sifting through a huge treasure trove of material – television broadcasts, home movies, photographs and newspaper clippings – Kapadia compellingly reveals the glorious rise and spectacular fall of a footballing legend. Employing his trademark technique of combining archive footage with candid interviews of the people closest to his subjects (including in this case, the man himself), Kapadia allows their voices to narrate the images. The resulting alchemy is incredibly disarming and effective. For those of you who love the beautiful game, this documentary might just give you a new perspective, not on the talent Maradona undoubtedly possessed and the controversy he created, but on the pressure cooker environment he lived in. For those of you who aren’t footie fans, you will still be riveted by the human story behind the sport and the devastating effect of fame and fortune.