The National Football League season is ending Feb. 1 with Super Bowl XLIX between the Patriots and Seahawks, but you can keep getting a fix of American football through “Touchdown Israel.”
Yes, there is an American football league in Israel, the Kraft Family Israel Football League, sponsored by Patriots owner Bob Kraft (no word on whether Tom Brady used fully inflated footballs while visiting Israel with his team owner).
This documentary works best away from the football field. We see sports as a tool for opening minds through the players of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa team, which mixes Jews and Arabs. We gain insight into the settler mentality through the Judean Rebels, who talk about football unleashing the Jewish warrior spirit. We observe the plight of non-North American immigrants through the Northern Stars, whose player-recruitment posters are in Russian, Hebrew and Arabic but not English.
The closer we get to the fields — a mix of poorly lighted, no-goalpost soccer fields and a dedicated, Kraft-financed field that’s only 60 yards long — the less interesting the movie becomes.
Too much of the film follows the course of the 2011 season and playoffs. There’s no reason for anyone outside the league to care about the 3-year-old outcomes, and the film fails to create a compelling narrative to make us care who wins.
That said, it’s a long time until training camps open in July, and if you crave football action, any football action, “Touchdown Israel” can provide your fix.
(Tickets are available for screenings Feb. 5 at Regal Avalon, Feb. 8 and 11 at Lefont Sandy Springs, and Feb. 12 at UA Tara; ajff.org.)
— Michael Jacobs