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Aug 11 2016

Rafa Benitez Backs NUFC Fan Film

newcastle-nufc-fan-film

(L-R) James DeMarco (director), Rafa Benitez, Zahra Zomorrodian (producer), Sandro Pascale (sound recordist), Esther Vardy (cinematographer) and Keith Bell (executive producer)

A documentary film following Newcastle United supporters throughout this season has received an important endorsement from the man who has reignited hope in so many fans – Rafa Benitez.
 
Zahra Zomorrodian is the Gateshead-based filmmaker behind the project, which has the working title ‘We Are The Geordies,’ and she was thrilled when Rafa agreed to take part.
 
The Newcastle United manager is not the focus of the documentary, and neither is the team on the pitch, however, his decision to remain at St James’ Park following relegation to the Championship is key to the positivity supporters are taking into this season.
 
Likewise, Rafa has talked about the important part Newcastle’s supporters played in his decision to stay at the club. In his interview with Zahra for the documentary, Rafa also reveals the extent to which Newcastle supporters should be grateful to his daughters for encouraging him to stay. Asked if daughters had a major bearing on his decision, Rafa says: “It’s true.  My family wanted me to stay because I was two years in Italy, six months in Spain.  So for them, to stay in England was really important.
 
“They follow the social network, they have Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, all these things. “And they were telling me ‘Listen, the fans love you.  You have to stay.  You have to stay for them. You have to win for them.’ “For one or two weeks, they were pushing and pushing.”
 
For Zahra, that kind of insight into the influence fans can have, even remotely via social media, adds important context to the film. And, when she came up with the concept of recording the season from the fans’ perspective, it was because the club is at such an interesting point in its history.
 
Zahra says: “The feeling around the city, the positivity, the fact that more than 35,000 season tickets have been sold, all that stems from Rafa’s decision to stay.
 
“And it’s that feeling of hope and a re-connection with their club that makes Newcastle fans of such interest to me as a filmmaker. “Really, the timing of this documentary is all down to Rafa.  He’s given Newcastle supporters belief and we want to record that positivity, and the way they deal with the disappointments that naturally happen. “Like Friday night’s result at Fulham.  As a fan, that was a setback, but it’s interesting from a filmmaker’s perspective to see how those disappointments are handled.”
 
In Rafa’s interview with Zahra, he also directly addresses fans and asks them to support both the film and his team.
 
Rafa says: “I am trying to support this [the film].  I think it’s important to do this film for the fans, about the fans, and I think that you will enjoy it. “I will say to all of you, stay keeping and supporting the team.  Stay behind the team and the players, they will appreciate that. “And you will be a crucial part if we go up. It depends on you.  We can try our best but you can make a difference.”

 
Fans can help in a number of ways, including investing in the film through Kickstarter, and almost £3,000 has already been pledged.
 
Zahra says: “We’re trying to raise an initial £20,000 through Kickstarter.  It’s a relatively quick way to get the project going and also means fans can truly become part of the film, even if they don’t want to appear in front of the camera. “We’re also talking to investors because the film’s overall budget will be £300,000.  The feedback we’re getting is excellent and, again, this is largely down to timing and Rafa’s commitment to the club.” ‘We Are The Geordies’ will follow a small number of fans, who will be the film’s main focus, and document home and travelling black and white support. 
 
It will also explore NUFC fan clubs around the globe, capturing the fanaticism of fans living thousands of miles away from St James’ Park. The film will feature an unusual mix of professionally filmed interviews and footage, interspersed with ‘camerafan’ footage, where supporters contribute their own phone videos of match day.
 
Zahra adds: “Pretty much everyone now has a phone they can record and share HD video footage from.  And that technology gives us access to the fans’ raw match day experience, the passion and the pain, in a way we can use. “It’s important that we capture what following Newcastle means to fans wherever they are.  Supporting the club, home and away, in bars, buses, stadiums and trains.  “And supporting from home, too.  Wherever home is.  We’ve had great interest from fans overseas who live thousands of miles from St James’ but who still share the passion and have their own match day experiences. “We’ve had a fantastic response already to the film already and Rafa’s support is a great boost.  We need those Kickstarter pledges, as well as ‘camerafan’ footage throughout the season.”
 
For Zahra and the ‘We Are The Geordies’ production team, Saturday’s (13th August) first home game of the season will be hugely important.
 
Zahra adds: “The Huddersfield game is massive for us because it’s massive for the fans. “It looks like it will be a record Championship crowd, which is amazing and really sums up why these supporters are so interesting.
 
“We’ll be in and around St James’ filming and we’re hoping to receive a lot of ‘camerafan’ footage that really captures the day.  “Everything from breakfast and the Metro journey, to the flags in Gallowgate and post-match pub.  Really, whatever makes your match day, match day.” ‘We Are The Geordies’ is not a Newcastle United project, however, the club is very positive about the concept of a film about its fans and has offered support wherever possible, including access to St James’ Park.
 
For more information, and to contact Zahra, please visit www.GeordiesFF.com.
 
Or follow the project on Twitter (@GeordiesFF) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/GeordiesFF).