“I was calling everyone, asking, ‘Can I direct one of these? How can I get involved?’” the filmmaker told the room of journos at ESPN’s TCA session. Ratner’s calls were eventually answered, as he was tapped to helm a doc in “30 for 30″ franchise spinoff “30 for 30 Soccer Stories.”
Debuting in April (perfect timing given the FIFA World Cup programming on ESPN), “Soccer Stories” includes standalone feature-length and halfhour docs from filmmakers including Ratner, Alex Gibney, Daniel Gordon, Sam Blair and more.
Inspiration for Ratner’s halfhour “Soccer Stories” doc — titled “Mysteries of The Jules Rimet Trophy” — has a decidedly historic edge.
“One of my passions, and opportunities I’ve never gotten [to pursue] was to make a film with Nazis in them,” Ratner explained. “All of my contemporaries like Tarantino and Spielberg have made their Nazi film, and I haven’t been able to tackle them. I heard about the Jules trophy…that Hitler was obsessed with stealing. And, one man who worked with the Italian World Cup was able to hide the trophy from the Nazis. It was an incredible story.”
Ratner, who has helmed featured films including “Tower Heist” and “X-Men: The Last Stand,” described his “Soccer Stories” doc as “more of a caper, like ‘Indiana Jones’ or ‘Munich.’”
“It’s really a story about one man protecting the trophy and the world leaders obsessed with it…Hitler was a maniacal and insane human being, and football was such a huge sport even back then — it was ultimately the greatest prize in sport, and sport has so much connection between politics and obsession with obtaining power and prizes.”
Glowing about his project and how he was able to “live” with the characters — both from the past and current soccer spectrum — Ratner noted, “The plethora of [historical] footage allows you to create something special that works.”