Experiencing Interruptions?

American Fútbol

Four filmmakers take an epic 7,000 mile, 8 country journey to the World Cup in Brazil in search of stories that define Latin America’s obsession with the Beautiful Game.

From soccer at the US-Mexico border, to blind football in Bogotá & 'barras bravas' in Argentina, what they find ultimately transcends the sport itself, and tells a story about misunderstood cultures, diversity and inclusion.

  • Peter Karl
  • Petar Madjarac
  • Peter Karl
  • Petar Madjarac
  • Peter Karl
  • Sam Mathius
  • Austin Ahlborg
  • Austin Ahlborg
  • Joseph Shahood
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Sports, Travel, Soccer, Latin America
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 37 minutes 14 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 25, 2018
  • Production Budget:
    110,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, United States, Uruguay
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Kicking + Screening Film Festival
    New York
    United States
    May 25, 2018
    Official Selection
  • Interrobang Film Festival
    Des Moines
    United States
    June 23, 2018
    Winner - Best Feature Documentary
Distribution Information
  • Freestyle Digital Media
    Country: United States
    Rights: Internet
Director Biography - Peter Karl, Petar Madjarac

Like the entire American Fútbol crew, Peter Karl (left) & Petar Madjarac (right) first met as undergrads at Emerson College in Boston. They bonded instantly over a shared love of sports, travel, and storytelling. Since then, exploring cultures through sports has become a focus of their filmmaking talents.

Peter Karl, 30, is a New England native who currently resides in Los Angeles. After graduating Emerson with a degree in Journalism, he moved to Bogotá, Colombia to learn Spanish , live on a farm, and later work in a local newsroom as an English translator. After the American Fútbol trip in 2014, he moved to New York to work as a producer/director for Major League Soccer & COPA90. Pete now works as freelance director & producer. He is an avid supporter of Liverpool F.C.

Petar Madjarac, 30, was born in Croatia before leaving the country ahead of the Serbo-Croatian war. When he was young, his family bounced around Europe before settling in Des Moines, Iowa. In college, Petar studied abroad in Granada, Spain, and graduated with a degree in Global Film Production & Marketing. He currently works as a producer & editor while remotely managing a family farm in his home village in Croatia. Petar supports Arsenal.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Soccer, fútbol, football - whatever you call it - is as universal a language as food, music & laughter. It's a passport to any culture in the world. For travellers, there’s no more efficient conversation starter. At a time when conversations are increasingly rare, we’ve found it ever more useful. Beyond the entertainment it provides, and despite its flaws at the corporate level, to us, soccer’s sweet spot is as a common denominator. Something real, and something safe that literally connects the world; a lens through which you can examine any culture.

While this film becomes an exploration of other cultures through soccer, it started with a reflection on our own. Like many other American soccer fans, we’ve often wondered how a wealthy country with over 300 million people of all creeds and colors has perennially underachieved in the men’s game. There are many reasons - popularity of other sports, being the main one - but we think there’s another one that’s particularly overlooked. One literally right underneath our nose.

An estimated 58 million people of Hispanic descent live in the United States - a majority of whom carry some trace of fútbol ingrained in their DNA. Despite this, the minority group that makes up nearly 18% of our population, is grossly underrepresented in our national team system. (In fact, the men’s team at the 2014 World Cup included just three Latino players. In 2007 & 2011, the women’s rosters each had just two.)

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the same ethnicities we give a societal stiff arm through national politics, are also being barricaded out of national soccer program. Whether this is by conscious or subconscious efforts, we can assume a lack of understanding and empathy for these cultures is a contributing factor.

So why not go to them? Why not take the 2014 World Cup in Brazil - the ultimate celebration of soccer on the greater American continent - as an opportunity for four white kids to go see and experience for themselves how Latin American cultures speak this universal language.

So that’s what we did. We plotted out a trip to 8 of the 9 Latin American countries that would feature in the World Cup (the most of any previous World Cup), started a crowdfunding campaign, and a few months later, embarked on a 4-month adventure.

Our intention with this film was never to showcase ourselves on a ‘once-in-a-lifetime boys’ trip.’ Rather, our goal was to find and document real stories in each place we visited, and translate Latin America’s passion for the beautiful game for people like us back home. Because all it takes is one common thread, one conversation starter, to change the way we connect and consider people from different cultures. And if along the way we inspire a bit of wanderlust, that’s okay too.