Football. The beautiful game, the sport which bridges language barriers, it is something you either love or hate but have some level of understanding of the sport. But what if a game of football meant life or death. Sounds a bit extreme doesn’t it? But what if this was reality? That is the question posed in director Aldo Iuliano’s 15-minute short film Penalty.

The film opens with a beautiful shot of a group of men drawing straws, before we get into a brief kick about. For a sport that brings such emotion there is a very sombre feel to this, no goal celebrations, no expressions on any of the players faces, it’s very surreal.

When a reckless tackle comes in a breaks one of the players ankle, anarchy looks set to ensue on the makeshift pitch, with players on both sides hitting out at the referee, until a gunshot brings silence.

It is here that time is reversed and the real story is told.


Iuliano’s all too brief film aims to highlight the hellish efforts of embattled Syrian citizens to flee their country and puts a human face to the immigration crisis we see all too often in our headlines. It is the desperation of these men that has them play through pain in a bid for survival and maybe a taste of freedom.

Cinematically Penalty is beautiful, the stormy background adds to the tense nature of what is unfolding on the screen, and the grey signifying the bleak outcome for these men. What is amazing is that none of the cast are professional actors, but actually friends of Iuliano’s, and despite this there is no forced movement everything seems fluid and natural.

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If there is one major criticism of this film is its length. Yes everything that needs to be said is superbly condensed within quarter of an hour. That being said I cannot help think there could be a wider story told her and more being digested as to what brought about this situation.

For a football fan, one thing that grinds on me is these prima donna’s driving all over the floor. Maybe managers around the world should show this film to his multi-million pound players and they may consider themselves considerably lucky to be in the position they are in.

Dir: Aldo Iuliano

Scr: Alessandro Giulietti and  Severino Iuliano

Starring: Danish Bhutto, Nyaringel Yawo, Wahab Masawudo, Issah Aness, Seidu Haruna and Mohamed Keita

Prd: Shing Ka, Andrette Lo Conte and Paul Mammano

Year: 2017

Runtime: 15 minutes