A Gay Football Feature Film
Ben A. Williams has been gaining accolades as one of the new British film directors to watch and his new film, “The Pass”, has been chosen to open the prestigious British Film Institute’s Flair Film Festival. While that might not seem to be exciting news, what is exciting is the film.
“The Pass” is the story of three very different nights over a ten-year period in the life of a Premier League Footballer. We meet Jason (Russell Tovey) at the beginning of his career, and on the night before his first big international match he and long-time friend and teammate Ade (Arinze Kene) share a hotel room. They try to beat the pre-match tensions with locker-room banter and teenage high jinks when out of nowhere Jason kisses Ade. The emotional repercussions of this pass, and “the decisions that follow on and off the pitch, have a major impact on every aspect of the public and private lives of both men across the next decade”— a decade of fame and failure, secrets and lies, in a sporting world where image is everything.
Nineteen-year-old Jason and Ade have been in the Academy of a famous London football club since they were eight years old. On the night before their first-ever game for the first team, a Champions League match, and they are in a hotel room in Romania. They should be sleeping, but they’re over-excited. They skip, fight, mock each other, prepare their kits and watch a teammate’s sex tape. Then out of nowhere, one of them kisses the other.
Russell Tovey spoke publicly in an interview that he’d never played a gay character, and that it would need to be a special role for him to do so. He further stated that he was proud to be an out gay man who hadn’t been pigeonholed in LGBT roles. Since then he’s played gay twice— he was in HBO’s “Looking” and he had a cameo in “Pride”. He must have forgotten that he has also played a gay man in the stage production of “The Pass”. The movie version is based upon that.
“The Pass” is not an issue film, yet John Donnelly’s wonderful screenplay puts very handsome men in a situation that affects them for the rest of their lives. It deals with pain, passion and complexity of the lives of elite footballers who are always inches away from fame or failure, and wonder whether honesty is worth the price.
A trailer has not yet been released.