Thursday, 12 December 2019

Flawed genius was fighting the system

Flawed genius was fighting the system

THE fascinating life story of Diego Maradona — whose success on the pitch was matched only by his notoriety off it — is a natural fit for Asif Kapadia, the London-born director behind the Bafta-winning documentary Senna (2010), the tragic story of Formula One legend Ayrton Senna, and the Oscar-winning Amy (2015), about the late singer Amy Winehouse.

Reuniting Kapadia with the award-winning team behind both films, Diego Maradona promises to be a uniquely powerful and gripping look at an incredible figure who transcended his sport to become a cultural icon.

Maradona’s sporting prowess is unrivalled, thanks to a career spanning more than two decades, four world cups and hundreds of goals. After making his mark playing in both his native Argentina and Barcelona, Maradona arrived in Naples on July 5, 1984 — a move for which he commanded yet another world-record transfer fee.

Soon Maradona had turned the ailing club’s fortunes around, wore the captain’s armband and broke countless records along the way.

As well as becoming a star player, Maradona became something of a god to the city — murals were painted on walls in his honour, and legions of newborn children bore his name.

Yet his years in Naples were also increasingly marked by scandal — accusations of drug use, illegitimate children and mob ties dominated the media and, after serving a 15-month ban for failing a drugs test, Maradona left the city in disgrace in 1992.

This is Kapadia’s first documentary to focus on a still-living subject, and he sees it as a natural successor to Amy and Senna.

In making the film, Kapadia has enjoyed the full support of the now
58-year-old Maradona.

That, together with unprecedented access to more than 500 hours of never-before-seen footage from Maradona’s personal archive, allows Kapadia to delve behind the headlines, the scandals, and the sensationalism to tell the epic, thrilling and intimate story of just how Maradona became the ultimate hero — and anti-hero.

“I’ve long been a fan of Diego Maradona. I was taken by his character, his genius, honesty, passion, humour and vulnerability,” says Kapadia.

“He was always the little guy fighting against the system, against the wealthy, the powerful, and he was willing to do anything, to use all of his cunning and intelligence to win.

“Diego is the greatest player of all time, but with flaws and weaknesses. His life was one of extremes, but somehow, ever the street fighter, he has survived to tell the tale.”

The film is showing at the Regal Picturehouse cinema from today (Friday).

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