Futbolistas 4 Life
Directed by Jun Stinson
The theatrics of futbol are familiar: quick feet, long passes, diving saves, and heroic winning goals. FUTBOLISTAS 4 LIFE reveals triumphs of a different kind. Director Jun Stinson follows an after-school soccer program in Oakland that has rallied an entire community around a singular goal — to create a sense of belonging and relevance among teenagers who have been told in different ways that they do not belong in this country.
Set at Life Academy, a predominately Latinx high school in the Fruitvale neighborhood, the film focuses on two students: April Rojas and Benjamin Gonzalez. Twice a week, the two participate in Futbolistas 4 Life. For them, the after-school program started by former professional soccer player Dania Cabello is not just a chance to kick a ball around, it is a journey in self-discovery. Fueled by her own immigration story, Cabello equips her students with the tools and fire to face low self-esteem, fears of deportation, and the sharp edges of growing up — all in the context of the beloved sport of futbol.
Though there are beautiful shots of ball juggling and drills, this isn’t a tale of sports glory or athleticism, and though we are able to feel the pressures of increasing ICE raids, this is not a heavy-handed social commentary. With FUTBOLISTAS 4 LIFE, Stinson invites us to be inspired by a simple showing of resilience.
— Justine Lee
Writer: Jun Stinson
Producer: Jun Stinson
Consulting Producer: Raymond Telles
Associate Producers: Jess Ramirez, Kyana Moghadam, Alicia Vargas
Cinematographers: Tijana Petrovic, Roberto Daza
Editor: Jean Kawahara
Cast: April Rojas, Benjamin Gonzalez, Dania Cabello