With heartbreaking interviews and intimate access to the subjects, the documentary Nossa Chape – which had its world premiere at the 2018 South By Southwest Film Festival – explores the aftermath of the tragic plane crash on November 28, 2016 that killed 71 people associated with Brazil’s Chapecoense fútbol team, as they traveled to Medellín, Colombia for a match. Only three of the players on the flight survived.
Directed by siblings Jeff and Michael Zimbalist (who were also behind the soccer biopic Pelé: Birth of a Legend) and co-directed by Colombian filmmaker Julian Duque, the non-fiction movie was commissioned by Fox Sports, a company that felt it had a vested interested in the story because a few of the their own reporters died in the incident.
Just weeks after the tragedy, Fox contacted the directors and production immediately got underway. “By the time everybody arrived back to the facilities in Chapeco to talk about whether they were going to rebuild or not, we were already rolling cameras,” said Jeff Zimbalist during a Q&A at SXSW.
Given that he had worked in South America with teams like Colombia’s Atlético Nacional, Julian was the one tasked with building trust with the subjects: the three surviving players, the other players on the 2016 that hadn’t been on the plane, the administrators, the new players, the new coach, the fans, and even the mayor. “The challenge was trying to show that there was a commitment from the filmmaker side. With documentaries, you are in the position of always asking for things, but the subjects have to receive something, and all that you can give that they would care about is your commitment,” noted Duque.
Unlike the news media that came in out of these people’s lives simply trying to capitalize on a good headline, the Zimbalists and Duque wanted to reassure them of their intentions to craft an in-depth portrait of the team and the town. Jeff explained they had never told a narrative that revolved around the stages of grief, a fact that determined the constantly evolving level of private and public access they had with each person. “In some cases you have subjects who are very available because they are looking for that catharsis to help with their trauma by sharing it with others who’ve also experienced it, and then other times they really pull back into a private space where the last thing they want is journalists in their presence.”
Shot by Colombian and Brazilian crews and paired with exclusive archive footage from numerous sources, Nossa Chape is doc with a humanist approach that looks at sports impact on society and the psychology behind their significance. The filmmakers confirmed there will a theatrical release in 20 markets across the US at the beginning of June, which will be followed by the doc’s broadcast premiere on Fox during the World Cup.