Director: Hellmuth Costard

Germany • 1971 • Colour • 90MIN

This film screened 6th November 2016.

This hypnotic portrait of Manchester United legend George Best trains multiple cameras on the revered footballer over the complete course of a match against Coventry City. Made at the height of Best’s fame and tabloid notoriety, Costard’s film focuses insistently on Best—warming up, looking restless and bored, waiting tactically to unleash his genius—rather than the on-pitch action to arrive at a sublime and revealing rumination on celebrity and a tantalizing glimpse of the man behind the myth.

It’s hard to imagine a filmmaker focusing on a single player for an entire game or match, but that’s just what German filmmaker Hellmuth Costard did in 1970 – filmed Manchester United star George Best for an entire match (long before British artist Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno made their 2006 variant Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait).

Using eight 16mm cameras, Hellmuth Costard, one of the most important experimental filmmakers in German cinema of the 1960s and 1970s, followed every move over the 90 minutes of the man in the red jersey with the number 11 – traditionally associated with the conventional outside left, but here worn by the late, great George Best. What at first seems like an eccentric experiment turns in the course of the film into something much more valuable: never before has the spectator had such a clear view of a player’s progress through a match and his attempts to ‘read the game’ – or such an insight into how carefully a player like Best paces himself.

Presented with a live musical accompaniment performed and written by:

Matthew Nolan – electric guitar

Kevin Murphy – cello

David Stalling – lap steel guitar / electronics

Sean Mac Erlaine – woodwinds, vocals and electronics

Bryan O’Connell – drums / percussion

Mary Barnecutt – cello

This piece was originally commissioned by VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art in Carlow.

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