a 50 minute TV documentary
Languages spoken: Dutch, Hebrew, English
Dutch, English and Hebrew versions are now available
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Some twenty odd Israelis living in Holland, mostly over thirty and forty, almost all veterans of the Israeli army, have created a football team with the purpose of injecting humor into their lives and beating the distress of feeling aliens in such a friendly land.
'Arsenal Eight' plays as an Israeli team in the fourth division of the Dutch Amateur Football Association. (KAVB)
They are at the very bottom of the league.
"Our mother-tongue is Hebrew and our father-tongue is Dutch and we're like children torn between two divorced parents..." Says Shimon Schabracq (50) the initiator of the team and the leaàing character of the film.
Born in Amsterdam to Jewish-Dutch Holocaust survivors, Shimon has immigrated to Israel at the Age of 7, fought 2 wars in Israel and came back to Holland at the age of 28. He's married to a non-Jewish, Indonesian Dutch woman and has 2 children. Shimon's parents' painful past and his own immigration and war experiences have forged a permanent mark on him and his controversial views might not always sound pleasant...
Arsenal's characters are as diverse and as colorful as any botanical garden will have it. The only thing that binds them together is their contradictions of longing for Israel but living in Holland, speaking Dutch but love to speak Hebrew, and of course, their passion for football.
As we get to know Shimon and his friends, a unique story unfolds. A story of seemingly ordinary people whose collective memory consists of generations of wandering, alienation, wars and persecution. Having established themselves well in Holland, yet experiencing identity problems, playing football together has become more, much more than a game. As Beni Amar (38), Arsenal's left-winger says: "When I play football, I forget everything. I only think of the ball and the game. Afterwards I feel relieved. It's one more fine day. It gives me the strength and the courage to go on"...
ARSENAL EIGHT -- FOOTBALL FOR THE SOUL delves into the personal side of the Israeli football players who chose to live in Holland as voluntary exiles, it looks at their emotional needs to run together in the football field and examines their relationship to their adopted country and its people.
It's a documentary full of fun, football and humor. It's about people's migration, about individuals in a foreign land and about the critical similarities and divisions that keep people apart and together.