INFINITE FOOTBALL (Fotbal Infinit)

 

Laurențiu Ginghină wants to change how the game of soccer is played. Why? In 1987, Ginghină fractured his fibula during a match and could no longer play. A year later, the mis-healed fibula placed undue strain on his tibia, further handicapping him. Refusing to blame either himself or his opponent for the injury, Ginghină blamed the game. Surely there must be a safer way to play soccer.

His solution: tweak the playing field, lop off the corner and turn the rectangular field into an octagon. This would also increase the dynamics of the game, as players tend to run along the edge. With an octagon, no longer would they get stuck in a corner. But Ginghină isn’t finished. Dividing the teams twice, then thrice, carving the pitch into six sections with designated positions for each, Ginghină completely revisions the game to suit his theory. The less players move, Ginghină rations, the more the ball moves.

But is this really a safe way to play soccer? Or does it simply enhance the act of watching a match? Would the players enjoy playing the game more using Ginghină’s adjustments? Director Corneliu Porumboiu puts a few of these questions to Ginghină, but Ginghină is ready for them. Not to answer them per se, but to rationalize his process. His version of soccer is still a work in progress, a work that may never reach actuality. It may not need to. Not every problem requires a solution.

This makes Infinite Football sound intriguing, but Porumboiu’s documentary about Ginghină’s theory isn’t. The conversations with Ginghină are sluggish, and Porumboiu’s corollaries to Romanian bureaucracy don’t quite come together. Thirty-one years ago, a swift kick to the shin ended Ginghină’s soccer career. He’s been turning that moment over in his head ever since. Someday it will finish cooking. Today is not that day.

Infinite Football is in limited release from Grasshopper Films.