5 Facts You Might Miss About Asif Kapadia’s Diego Maradona
Bertha Dochouse’s Tilly Hudson sure knows her documentaries. Here, Tilly reveals five facts about the making of Asif Kapadia’s Diego Maradona.
Here at Bertha DocHouse, we couldn’t be more excited to be welcoming Academy Award-winning director Asif Kapadia to introduce his latest documentary about football’s very own demi-god, Diego Maradona, on Thursday 13 June (Sorry, it’s already sold out! But there is another Q&A screening with Kapadia at Curzon Soho on Saturday 15 June)
Made by the holy trinity of director Kapadia, producer James Gay-Rees and editor Chris King – the very same close-knit team behind the game-changing documentaries Senna and Amy – this trio now completes it hattrick of masterpieces with the long-anticipated Diego Maradona.
There are few footballers who could warrant a full 130 minutes of screen time, but this little-known story of how the man Diego became consumed in the myth of Maradona will definitely leave you feeling spellbound with its delicate mix of interviews, home videos and hair-raising matches.
Using over 500 hours of previously unseen footage, Diego Maradona focuses on the Argentinian’s time in Italy, where he signed for Napoli in 1984. When he arrived, Napoli was struggling to stay in what was the world’s greatest league, and it was a strange move for a player of his class. By the time he left, they’d won the Seria A twice and topped the UEFA league.
But Maradona’s God-given talent aside, Diego’s story is one of a young boy who rose up from one of Buenos Aires’ poorest slums – from the age of just fifteen – to have the hopes of his entire family resting on his young shoulders. And in time, he had the hopes of an entire Italian city and his home nation weighing on him to.
It’s this story that’s most worth seeking out in cinemas this week. But Asif Kapadia definitely met his match in telling Maradona’s story, and his journey to discover the man behind the myth most certainly wasn’t an easy one.
So ahead of our preview introduction from Kapadia himself, here’s five facts about the making of Diego Maradona that you might not get from watching the film alone:
1. Diego Maradona exclusively draws from hundreds of hours of previously unseen, personal footage shot by the footballer on U-matic video between 1981 and 1987; giving you, the viewer, front row seats to see the player both on and off the pitch as never before.
2. In a twist on how docs are usually made, Diego practically chose Kapadia to make a film about him, rather than the other way around.
The footballing icon was delighted to have Kapadia create a biopic of his life after watching the BAFTA Award-winning Senna (2010), and before Kapadia’s producers had even finished agreeing a deal, Maradona took to Twitter and posted a pictured of Kapadia with his award, plus a caption stating, "This guy is making a film about me next."
3. Kapadia initially set out to make Diego Maradona in 2012, but he had not long since released Senna, and thought it was too soon to make another South American, sports related doc.
Kapadia’s process of interviewing Maradona also wasn’t easy. The director has gone on record as saying that, given the number of interviews the superstar now does, he wasn’t always sure that Diego remembered who he was over the years.
4. Once Kapadia did finally start making the doc in 2015, rather like his subject, he was at the height of his fame, with the two highest-grossing British documentaries ever made to his name.
But the director openly admits that starting work on Diego Maradona was possibly his greatest professional challenge ever, and that this represents the most difficult documentary he has ever made – both practically and emotionally.
5. In a recent interview with Vice, Kapadia said that he thought a lot of this difficulty came from the fact that the once venerated Maradona no longer exists: "I wish that person was still left in him to go back to, but he's gone."
The director spoke of how there’s the real Diego on one side, and a constructed figure of Maradona on the other, and despite still being very compos mentis, Kapadia now thinks the footballer sits “very much on the Maradona end of things.” To this day, the director is still not sure if he ever really found the true man…
Love documentaries? Watch the third instalment of Asif Kapadia’s fascinating trilogy on tragi-heroes with us! Diego Maradona arrives in cinemas Friday 13 June.