THE TEAM
Category All , Human Interest , Society , Sport
Year: 2010
Country: Canada
Running Time: 56' | 80'
Production: White Pine Pictures
Director: Patrick Reed
Official Website: www.whitepinepictures.com/all-titles/the-team/
 
Synopsis

Kenya has long been considered Africa's success story, relatively stable and ethnically harmonious. But following their December 2007 Presidential election, everything changed. Voting controversy split the country along ethnic lines, pushing Kenya to civil war.

The international community intervened, a fragile peace was brokered, and a Truth and Reconciliation framework put in place. But as ethnic suspicion and violence continue to paralyze the country, many dismiss these actions as hollow political theatre.

An alternative local response is the creation of a taboo-breaking TV soap opera, The Team, following the struggles of a co-ed multi-ethnic soccer squad to overcome their differences, both on and off the pitch.

There's inherent drama behind any TV production: will deadlines be met; will it be good? But here the stakes are exponentially higher: if you don't captivate an audience, you risk further losing your country.

The Team is an intense, character-driven documentary offering a unique look at youth culture and popular media, following characters on and off the set, exploring how lives are reflected in the soap, and vice-versa. What can a soap opera achieve in a place desperate for change but teetering on the brink? Watch and see.

More on Film

DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT

I’ve had the pleasure and challenge of making a number of films in various parts of Africa, travelling to Somalia; Lesotho; Democratic Republic of Congo; Rwanda; Malawi, Kenya, and so on.

These films—including “Shake Hands with the Devil,” and “Triage,” both with Peter Raymont of White Pine Pictures in Toronto, Canada—were neither easy to make, nor easy to watch. I was hardly suffering from “Africa fatigue,” but wanted to explore a different side of so-called African story: one that wasn’t about a Western outsider on a pilgrimage back to the past, or on a crusade into the future. Rather, a present story where Africans played the starring role, active participants instead of passive victims.

So, I was immediately intrigued when I heard that a Kenyan production company—borrowing an idea from the innovative US-based Non-Governmental Organization, Search for Common Ground—was creating a TV soap opera series called “The Team,” hoping to captivate an audience and compel their nation to confront issues like tribalism.

We started filming in December 2008—our first of four shoots in Kenya over the period of a year. As a thousand aspiring actors auditioned at Kenya’s national soccer stadium—an appropriate location since the soap opera follows a soccer team comprised of players from warring tribes—our crew was immediately struck by the idealism of the final cast: some had never acted before, all were from different backgrounds in terms of tribe (not the most politically correct term, but the one that they used) and class, but all seemed united in a common belief that what the soap opera might just change their nation, and would undoubtedly change their lives. Finally, I thought, here was my positive “African story” with a happy ending, more heart-warming than heartbreaking.

Well, without giving too much away, that was a bit of wishful thinking on my part. When the story took an unexpected turn at the end, I remember asking one of the young actors: “What happened? What about the whole “A Star is Born” kind of storyline?” He said: “Unfortunately, life is not a fairy-tale.” There’s no script for life, or documentary, and what happens, happens, for better or worse.

- Patrick Reed

More about Director

Patrick Reed

Director/Producer/Writer

Over the past decade, Patrick Reed has collaborated on and championed several award-winning documentaries for White Pine Pictures. These films have appeared at the most prestigious festivals, been broadcast around the world, and theatrically released. Many of Reed’s films explore human rights issues, following compelling characters as they struggle with the past and present.

One of Reed’s first assignments with White Pine was researching and producing Shake Hands With The Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire, which won the World Cinema Documentary Audience Award at Sundance 2006, and Best Documentary Emmy in 2007.

In 2007, Reed produced a ratings winner for CBC’s flagship documentary strand. This documentary, Tar Sands: The Selling of Canada, offers an indepth look at Fort McMurray, Alberta, a boomtown where the streets are literally drenched in oil.  He followed this up with a second CBC documentary, Pets on Prozac that casts a suspicious eye on the growing phenomenon of pet pharmaceuticals.

His film, Triage, followed Dr. James Orbinski on an emotionally difficult journey back to Somalia and Rwanda where he was at the centre of far too many life and death decisions during those country’s years of upheaval. This film had its world premiere at the 2007 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), where it was voted an audience favourite; and screened at the Sundance Film Festival 2008, and HotDocs, winning a number of international awards. It was released theatrically in Canada by KinoSmith.

Reed also directed Tsepong: A Clinic Called Hope, a cinema vérité chronicle of the work of doctors and nurses fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Lesotho, Africa. Tsepong received multiple Gemini Award nominations in 2007, and has been screened internationally at numerous festivals.

Reed’s recently completed feature documentary, The Team—following the making of a soap opera in Kenya designed to bridge ethnic divides—had its world premiere at IDFA in 2010, as part of the prestigious Feature-Length Competition program. The film has subsequently screened at various festivals, including Human Rights Watch Film Festivals (London and New York); Full Frame; HotDocs; Silverdocs; among others.

Among other projects, Reed is currently directing and producing a feature documentary with White Pine about General Romeo Dallaire and child soldiers, Fight Like Soldiers, Die Like Children.

Festivals & Awards

2010 International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, Netherlands
In Competition for Feature-Length Documentary Award