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The Jewish Film Institute presents a "Best of the Fest" series from the 39th San Francisco Jewish Film Festival in partnership with the Osher Marin JCC. To see all the films in the series (running from January - March, 2020), click here.
This biographical drama tells the remarkable life story of Bert Trautmann, a German footballer who raised the bar for soccer goalkeeping while playing for Manchester City, and as a decorated SS veteran tested the country's willingness to forgive. This epic film opens during the war, as the Luftwaffe bombs England, and Trautmann, a paratrooper for the Third Reich, is captured along the Eastern front. Transported to England, he begins to reexamine his allegiances when he is forced to watch films of recently freed concentration camp survivors. When he is put to work in a nearby town, he reluctantly plays goalkeeper for the local team, then falls in love with the coach's daughter. But just when the movie risks descending into a predictable love story, the tale takes several shocking turns. Trautmann's signing causes outrage among thousands of Manchester fans, many of them Jewish. But support comes from an unexpected direction: Rabbi Altmann, a Manchester fan who fled the Nazis, publishes an open letter opposing the campaign against Bert. Ultimately the film does not shy away from the complicated nature of Trautmann's story. On the contrary, as a central part of its appeal, it raises tough questions about forgiveness, forgetting and the power of sports to (re)unite. -Emily Kaiser Thelin