Filmmaking Is Almost like Cheating to Get Reactions: Asif Kapadia
Asif Kapadia’s direction and years of footage of the famous Argentinian footballer Diego Maradona will be seen on the big screen on 11 October. Diego Maradona - a documentary film on the footballer tries to capture the highs and lows in the footballer’s life and why people considered him a ‘god’.
The Quint caught up with Asif Kapadia to talk about his latest and why he gets drawn to flawed characters.
Diego was such a legend and there are so many highs and lows and so many aspects to his life. How do you crunch down everything in a 130-minute film?
It took two years to make and another one year of research, a brilliant team. And our job is to just keep pushing and pushing until we find the essence of the character and find a way to take everything that happens in someone’s life – and he had a very long complicated life – and reduce it down to the two-hour length. That hopefully an audience watching it… even if you’re a big fan you learn something new and if you don’t like football you still find an interesting story.
So you were going through footage from a really long time?
I’ll tell you what happened. In the mid-90s, I was at art school in London at the Royal College of Art and I read a book about Maradona. That was the germ of the idea in 1996, thinking wouldn’t it be great to make a film about Maradona. And then in 2012, a producer contacted me and said that you know there’s this footage of Maradona that I’ve found, nobody has ever seen it, do you want to make a film? At that I had just made Senna, so I said no. I just did a film about a sportsman. And then I came back and I thought, okay now I am ready. I am at a certain age and I am interested in telling a story. If I am going to make a third documentary, it needs to be different and the difference is that Maradona is still alive and I can interview him and meet him. So the film itself took only three years, but the idea around making a film has been around for a long time.
I read somewhere that when Maradona heard about the title – ‘Hustler’ was it? – he said and I quote, “I don’t like the title, and if I don’t like the title I am not going to like the film. Don’t go and see it.”
The film’s called ‘Diego Maradona’ and I made the film and somewhere someone makes a poster. And in the film – his biographer spent thirty years with Diego Maradona – in the film says he’s a rebel, hero, cheat and a god. But when it was put on a poster, at some point the word ‘cheat’ got changed to ‘hustler’. Someone in Argentina who hadn’t seen the film was talking to Diego Maradona who hasn’t seen the film and said guess what they called you, they called you a hustler. And I don’t know how they translated that word into Spanish but whatever word they used, he said, “I don’t like that word, I don’t like this film, don’t see this film.” It’s two people who haven’t seen the movie telling people not to go and see the movie.
Watch the video for more. Diego Maradona by Asif Kapadia releases on 11 October.