Introducing Thinking Football Film Festival 2023


The 11th edition of Athletic Club Foundation’s film festival will take place between October 9-14, with special guests such as Marco Lanna, Liam Brady, Miodrag Belodedici, Martin Bengtsson and the Might Penguins

The Athletic Club Foundation has unveiled the programme for the 11th edition of the Thinking Football Film Festival, which will take place in Bilbao at the Sala BBK. From October 9th until the 14th, there will be six days of top football films every evening, with a varied bill and special guests such as Marco Lanna, Liam Brady, Miodrag Belodedici, Martin Bengtsson and the entire Brentford Penguins team, a side made up of footballers with Down’s Syndrome. The stars of the film Mighty Penguins will be in charge bringing down the curtain on this year’s festival.

The presentation press conference was attended by Athletic Club director Josetxu Urrutia, Koldo Bilbao, on behalf of BBK, and festival director Galder Reguera. There will be 12 screenings in total, the films being showed at either 18:00 or 20:00, with Q&A sessions after the headline act.

All the movies will be screened in their original language with subtitles in Spanish and Basque. Tickets are free, but must be booked in advanced HERE

For more information about the festival please visit where you can find out more about this year’s edition, previous events and a list of the Audience Prize winners.


Monday 9: Special screening of Tigrar and a tribute to the Sampdoria of Vialli and Mancini

The festival kicks off on the morning of Monday 9th at 11:00 CEST with the 2022 Audience Award winner, Tigrar. Martin Bengtsson, whose biography the Swedish film is based on, and director Ronnie Sandahl, visit Bilbao again and will take part in a post-screening discussion. Tigrar tells the story of Martin Bengtsson, a promising Swedish footballer who signs for Inter Milan. The film deals with the consequences of mental illness in sport, so its educational value is enormous. For this reason, Fundazioa has organised a special morning session aimed at schools and Lezama’s technical staff.

The first public screening will take place on Monday at 19:00 at Sala BBK with Marco Ponti’s film La Bella Stagione (The Beautiful Season), a documentary about the iconic Sampdoria side containing the likes of Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Mancini. Former Sampdoria player and current club president Marco Lanna is expected to be with us for a Q&A session afterwards.

Tuesday 10: I Believe in Miracles & Green lions, about Roger Milla’s Cameroon side

On Tuesday 10, at 18:00, the festival debuts a new section called Thinking Football Revisited’ in which some of the best-rated films from previous editions are brought back. This year we have I Believe in Miracles, a Jonny Owen documentary about Nottingham Forest’s glory days under Brian Clough.

At 20:00, we’ll be screening British film Green Lions, directed by Billy Dosanjh. A documentary produced by DAZN about the Cameroon team that shone at the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

Wednesday 11: Liam Brady: The Irishman Abroad & Another Way: The Forest Green Rovers Story

For the first session (18:00), we’ll be showing Another Way: The Forest Green Rovers Story, a British film directed by Bart Corpe. It follows the story of the world’s greenest football club. In this FIFA production, we learn about the club’s philosophy and vision for the game while following their promotion to League One.

In the 20:00 session we have the Irish film Liam Brady: The Irishman Abroad, a biopic about one of the greatest talents in the history of Irish football and the first Irish footballer to triumph in Europe. The former player, who represented his country, and turned out for the likes of Arsenal, Juventus, Sampdoria and Inter will take part in a post-screening Q&A with the audience.

Thursday 12: In the Middle & Marinette

For the first slot on Thursday (18:00), the festival will show In the Middle, a documentary directed by Greg Crutwell, who will also participate in the panel discussion after the film. It’s a beautiful British feature that follows a diverse group of referees working in lower league football. A wonderful tribute to an essential figure in the game, who is often underappreciated.

And at 20:00, it’s the turn of French film Marinette, by Virginie Verrier. The documentary is inspired by the life of Marinette Pichon, considered to be the best female football player in French history. Athletic Club’s women’s first team will be at the Sala BBK to watch the film and listen to the subsequent discussion.

Friday 13: El hincha (The Fan) & UEFA’s Extraordinary Stories

The weekend will begin with a screening of an Argentinian film called El hincha (The Fan) at 18:00 on Saturday. Directed by Renzo Cozza, the film introduces the viewer to the world of River Plate and how fans ‘inherit’ a football club. At 20:00, the Thinking Football has scheduled, in collaboration with UEFA, two short films from the UEFA Extraordinary Stories series.

The first, Jimmy Hasty: The One-Armed Wonder, tells the incredible story of Jimmy Hasty, a player who overcame the trauma of losing his left arm in a childhood accident to lead Dundalk FC to their first league title in 30 years but was then tragically murdered in 1974 by a paramilitary group during ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland.

The second is Deserter: The Extraordinary Story of Miodrag Belodedici. The short documentary retraces the events of the former European champion’s decision to flee Nicolae Ceaușescu’s Romania, a choice which landed the former Steaua Bucharest and Red Star Belgrade player a 10-year prison sentence.

Saturday 14: Pirveli Mertskhali & the grand finale with The Mighty Penguins

Thanks to Vueling, Fundación LaLiga and Brentford FC, the entire Brentford Penguins team will be in Bilbao as we bring down the curtain on this year’s event with a screening of The Mighty Penguins at 20:00. This beautiful and emotional documentary by Louis Myles (director of ‘Kaiser’) introduces us to The Brentford Penguins, a football team for children with Down’s Syndrome coached by former Premier League player Allan Cockram. Both Myles and Cockram will take part in the post-film Q&A. It will be the perfect end to an unforgettable day for the Brentford boys and girls, who that same morning will play in Lezama against a team from ‘Ahalegina’, the Fundazioa’s social project for children with intellectual disabilities.

Prior to the screening of Mighty Penguins, we’ll be showing Pirveli Mertskhali (The First Swallow) at 18:00. This famous comedy, from the mind of famous director Nana Mchedlidze, tells the story of Georgia’s first football club, which was founded in the port city of Poti.