Eritrea Stars

  • John Appel
  • Netherlands
  • 2015
  • 55 min
  • World Premiere
  • IDFA Competition for Dutch Documentary
In 2012, the Eritrean soccer team defected during a tournament in Uganda. Two years later, the players turn up in the Dutch city of Gorinchem. The local cop and the soccer team immediately conscript the refugees: they are given a place to stay, clothing and of course soccer training – after all, the local team wouldn’t mind a shot at the Africa Cup. Team members are filmed practicing, in Dutch class and at the apartment they share, while their trainer and others discuss the situation. The players talk about what they think of the Netherlands and what their expectations for the future are. Fear of reprisals at home means they don’t talk about their flight stories, but an Eritrean journalist uses interview excerpts to explain what life in a dictatorship is like. While the soccer team dreams of success, the players have other things on their minds. They are impatient and want to lead their own lives outside the realm of soccer. This provides some wonderful but painful insights into micro-level aid: good intentions can’t compete with high expectations. Will the players make their dreams come true?


  • 55 min
  • color
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: English
  • Subtitles in: Dutch
John Appel
John Appel, Nicoline Tania for VPRO
Erik van Empel, John Appel
Mario Steenbergen
Mark Wessner

IDFA history

World Premiere
IDFA Competition for Dutch Documentary

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IDFA history

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