By Don Simpson | February 27, 2012
Director: Mushon Salmona
Writer: Mushon Salmona
Starring: Avinoam Blumenkrantz, Benni Adega, Edna Fanta, Oksana Sokol, Rachel Melesa, Hani Peretz, Kobi Marziano, Irit Nathan Benedek, Yaniv Adani, Dana Kucherovsky, Meir Simo, Sergei Gnatyuk, Oleg Chernishev, Oren Cohen, Kye Korabelnikov, Shirli Chernishev, Gal Fatachov, Avi Meir, Daniel Ben Shabat, Meir Levi
Named after the local soccer stadium in the Southern Israeli town of Beer-Sheba, writer-director Mushon Salmona’s Vasermil tells the story of three “at risk” male teenagers who are ostracized from Israeli society. The three boys probably do not realize it, but soccer is the only thing that can save them from their dire existence.
Dima (David Teplitzky) comes from a Russian immigrant family. His stepfather is unemployed and his mother wants him to play the piano at a school ceremony; but Dima rarely goes to school, instead he is a petty thief and a small-time drug dealer for an older gang of Russian immigrants. Dima is the water boy for his soccer team, but eventually he gets called in to replace their injured goalie. Adiel (Adiel Samro) was born in Israel but is of Ethiopian decent. He wears a yarmulke and used to go to a Jewish boarding school; but because of his race and ethnicity, most Israelis still question whether he is actually a Jew. Adiel is an extremely talented soccer player but he has to overcome blatant racial prejudice just to get the ball passed to him. Of the three boys, Schlomo (Nadir Eldad) is the only one who is pure Israeli. Schlomo is a angry and violent teenager, but he is the star (and captain) of his soccer team.
Shlomi, Adiel and Dima are recruited by Matan (Matan Avinoam Blumenkrantz), the coach of the local soccer team to take part in the Beer-Sheba Youth Championship at Vasermil Stadium. Scouts of the local soccer empire will be in attendance, recruiting the best players. Matan has his hands full with the ethnically diverse team. To have any chance at winning the big match, the boys will have to learn to accept each other as equals despite their different heritages.
As a fan of soccer and someone who wishes racial equality could actually become a reality, I should love Vasermil; but the heavy-handed narrative tropes tired me out pretty quickly. And though I definitely see the merits of team sports for certain personality types, Vasermil feels like a PSA for a youth soccer league. It would be awesome if team sports could conquer racism and economic disparity, but I don’t have as much confidence as Salmona that it is the ultimate solution. The performances are what makes Vasermil worthwhile viewing. The ensemble cast of presumably untrained teenage actors is quite amazing; they have a fantastic rapport, and their performances are incredibly realistic.
Vasermil was released in the United States on DVD by Film Movement in February 2012.