Director Scores Netflix Deal for Film About Beitar Jerusalem Soccer Club

'Forever Pure' chronicles an especially controversial season when the team signed two Muslim players, angering its extremist supporters

Itay Stern
Itay Stern
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Beitar Jerusalem soccer fans watching a match against Arab team Maccabi Umm al-Fahm at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem, 2013.
Beitar Jerusalem soccer fans watching a match against Arab team Maccabi Umm al-Fahm at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem, 2013. Credit: Bernat Armangue/AP
Itay Stern
Itay Stern

A documentary about the controversial Beitar Jerusalem soccer club and its group of extremist fans (known as La Familia) has been bought by Netflix and is now available to stream in over 100 countries.

“Forever Pure” portrays the especially stormy 2012-13 season, when the club’s then-owner, Arcadi Gaydamak, brought in two Chechen Muslim players. This divided the team’s fan base and demoralized the players, leading to a string of defeats, sometimes played to near-empty stadiums.

The film was directed by Maya Zinshtein, produced with the support of the New Fund for Cinema and TV, the Mifal Hapayis national lottery and American Sundance Institute, and was screened at more than 100 film festivals worldwide.

It is not yet known how much the deal was for, but similar deals in the past have netted film producers tens of thousands of dollars. Due to previous distribution contracts, the film will not be available in Israel, Britain or France.

The film has already been broadcast by the PBS network in the United States on over 1,000 local channels and on the BBC in Britain.

“This is an amazing achievement,” said Zinshtein, following the announcement. “This film started as a guerrilla project. At first, I shot for four days for Ilana Dayan’s ‘Uvda’ [Fact] program, and then I continued to film throughout the season at my own and my parents’ expense. I never thought a guerrilla production could end up on Netflix’s shelf.”

Zinshtein added that the documentary speaks to many different audiences for a simple reason: “It speaks to our time. It shows how a small, extremist group can seize control of the majority and defeat it,” she said. “After all, [Donald] Trump was part of the esoteric margins of the Republican Party until two years ago, and today he’s coming here as president of the United States.”

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