The third film from the Academy Award and BAFTA-winning team behind “Senna” and “Amy,” including director Asif Kapadia, “Diego Maradona” is culled from more than 500 hours of exclusive footage from Maradona’s personal archive with the full support of the man himself, an iconic footballer who won the prestigious FIFA Player of the 20th Century Award.
In 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 dangerous Italian city were a perfect match for each other. On the pitch, Diego Maradona was a genius. Off the pitch, he was treated like a god. The charismatic Argentine loved a fight against the odds and led Napoli to their first-ever title. It was 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, as the soccer prince fell into hard-partying, drugs, and alcohol.
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Working from formats ranging from 8mm video, early newsreel shot on 16mm, and U-matic video, Kapadia’s team assembled a drama that covers a longer life than that of Amy Winehouse, the subject of Kapadia’s 2016 Oscar-winning film about the death and life of the 27-year-old songstress.
Kapadia told IndieWire that he first discovered the Argentine soccer player in 1998, reading about Maradona in film school. But it wasn’t until 2012, after Kapadia made Formula 1 racing movie “Senna” that producer Paul Martin called him about the prospect of gaining access to Maradona’s private footage. “I don’t think the timing is right to follow a Brazilian sporting hero with an Argentinian sporting hero,” said Kapadia, who next made “Amy.” In between these projects, he made the drama “Ali and Nino,” and directed two episodes of the first season of Netflix’s “Mindhunter.”
In his IndieWire review, Chief Film Critic Eric Kohn called the film “a breathless and gripping saga of a soccer legend’s fall from grace,” adding that “the movie only observes athleticism as a starting point for deeper concerns. Maradona’s intense performance on the field, surrounded by the mania of screaming fans, unfolds against the backdrop of the emotional stakes that drove him to the top in the first place — his impoverished childhood in Buenos Aires, and a desire to support his family at all costs, catapult him into such a hectic pileup of competitiveness and unfiltered hubris that he eventually transforms into a modern-day Icarus on a preordained flight to the sun.”
The documentary hits theaters September 20 before arriving on HBO October 1, making it eligible for both the 2020 Academy Awards, and the 2020 Emmy Awards.