Noted artist Riyas Komu, who is at the 16th International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) as the coordinator of the ‘Kicking and Screening-Football Films' package is overwhelmed by the response the films received at the festival. However, he does have a complaint — that not many children got to see the films.

“Most of the films included in this section tell inspirational stories. Children play lead roles in many of them. Besides, football players are like heroes to kids and they can easily relate to these films. I think all children should watch films like Will and Garuda in My Heart which were in the package,” he said.

He, however, added that it was a privilege to have football historian Jan Tilman Shwab to accompany the package at the festival. Mr. Komu is now planning to organise a film festival exclusively for sports films in New Delhi.

“Football films will definitely be part of this. But before that, I will be taking the Kicking and Screening package, with a different set of films, to a festival in Thrissur in January, 2012,” he said.

‘Beautiful game'

Mr. Komu, who hails from Thrissur, specialised in painting and sculpture from the JJ School of Art, Mumbai. Since then, he has been residing in that city, which also re-kindled his childhood passion for the beautiful game. “After seven years in hostel, I moved to Borivali, a Mumbai suburb with a rich local football culture. Once again I got involved with the game and started including it in my art work,” he said.

After working on several art projects with football as the theme, he took his love for the game to a more academic level, studying the various sociological and anthropological aspects of the game. Four year ago, he got in touch with the national football team and collaborated with them on a series of photo, sculpture, and video projects.

Mr. Komu has also done football projects abroad. In 2008, when the Iraq team won the Asia Cup, Mr. Komu did a sculpture project titled ‘Left Legs' depicting the political implication of the war-torn country's victory which was courtesy a team in exile. In 2010, when the French national team was disbursed after its exit from the World Cup and reorganised into a White-dominated team, Mr. Komu expressed his angst through a project titled ‘Beyond Gods' which emphasised multi-culturalism that was the identity of the former team.

“During the World Cup last year, I did a show in Mumbai titled ‘Subrato to Ceasar,' named after the goalkeepers of India and Brazil. I created two goalposts for the two teams and tried to highlight the distance between the two. Through this work I wanted to highlight the issues that have led to the neglect of the game in our country,” said Mr Komu.

To tinsel world

It was football writer Simon Kuper who introduced him to football films and to ‘Kicking and Screening,' an annual football film-festival held in New York. “I found that cinema, like other art forms, is a powerful medium to convey the beauty of football through inspiring tales. That's how I started associating with Kicking and Screening,” he said.

“For me, football is an extension of my art practice,” said the artist, who is also setting up a football club called Garrincha FC at Borivali.