Nice People is a very timely film. In our current state of mass migration of Arabic and African refugees to European countries and the right-wing propaganda that follows such events, it is important for audiences to get a view of the conditions of these people. The fact that Nice People’s view is all wrapped up in a feel-good narrative about a happy-go-lucky sports team is just a smart strategy from documentarians Karin af Klintberg and Anders Helgeson.
In a Swedish town where many of the locals assume that “the black” have nothing better to do than to steal bicycles and commit wanton acts of violence, a local motivational speaker gathers a group of Somalian expatriates and teaches them how to play bandy – a sport almost indistinguishable from hockey – so that they can go to the bandy world championships as the official Somalian team.
Despite sounding like a Disney production, this documentary never attempts to create a bunch of underdogs who come from behind and win everything. Instead, the film’s main focus is on the team members’ inner workings as they lose games by the double digits, do their best to score a goal, and gain fans who want to cheer for a team that has no chance of winning. The final product ends up being occasionally hilarious and frequently heartwarming.
Documentaries are almost always difficult to recommend to a wide audience, if only because subject matter is often more important than presentation. There is nothing groundbreaking about the documentary’s aesthetics or formal elements. However, if you are a fan of sports documentaries, documentaries on refugees and diaspora, or a fan of both, you should really check out Nice People. If neither of these things is necessarily your cup of tea, I can’t be certain that you would appreciate this. All told, this film kept my attention and I did enjoy it, but your mileage may vary.
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Shahbaz Khayambashi: @Shakhayam