¨This is Peñarol¨
Manyas is a Uruguayan documentary directed by Andres Benvenuto that documents the testimonies of journalists, historians, psychologists, sociologist, and several fans of Peñarol, the local club that`s just been named the best football team of the Twentieth Century, and recently lost the final of the Copa Libertadores against Santos from Brazil. Peñarol has won five Libertadores and in 2011 was on its way to win their sixth Cup after 25 years under coach Diego Aguirre, who ironically in 1987 had scored the winning goal for Peñarol. Unfortunately the Manyas (nickname given by their fans) were one goal away from the achievement and came home empty handed. This film documents the events that occurred before and after that final match. It`s also a study of how football has become a religion for several people and how they worship their team every week. One fan says ¨Peñarol is my religion and the Centenario Stadium my Church.¨ Fanatics share their experiences and crazy stories about things they`ve done for their team. Uruguay is a small country, but people are united by this sport because it has a rich history. Despite only having a population of three million, Uruguay has won two Olympic gold medals for football, two World Cups, and 15 Copa America`s. They are South America Copa Kings and therefore its inhabitants get their sense of pride from football. Everyone in Uruguay loves football and knows the rich history the country has, therefore the sport isn`t taken lightly by its people. In Manyas we get to experience this deep fanatism the people have for their local team.
Throughout the documentary we get to hear several testimonies about fans who`ve traveled several kilometers to see their team play, who`ve escaped their home when their wives didn`t give them permission to leave, who`ve fought with their girlfriends over their love for team players, who have gotten strange tattoos of their team and some of their idols, who`ve sold their parents` motorcycles and told them someone stole them in order to have money to travel with the team, and so on. The camera catches these testimonies and we can see the passion in each of these individuals’ eyes. The camera also takes us to the stadium where we see this passion shown throughout the games with goal celebrations and hard to swallow losses. The documentary is intense and throughout these moments we also get to hear to testimony of several professionals who try to explain why the team awakens so much passion and emotion in their fans. We even spend time with a couple of old ladies who are just as fanatics as any other young person. Several ex players also share their testimony and experience with Peñarol fans. Another very emotional moment is when the camera documents the moment in which Peñarol fans make the biggest flag in the world and display it in one of the matches. It is gigantic and eye dropping (three hundred meters wide and 50 long). We also hear several testimonies from several fans around the globe showing that Peñarol is not just local fanatism, but something global.
One fan explains his passion and love for Peñarol by saying ¨We can lose from behind, we can suffer a humiliating defeat, lose a final or a semifinal, but you lose a football match, but the passion will always be there, it will never die, the passion never losses, because this is Peñarol!¨ No matter what the result is, the fans are always there supporting the team. Peñarol is one of the only teams in which their fans wear the jersey more when the team losses than when it actually wins. As a fan of Peñarol myself it`s a little hard to be unbiased with this documentary, and at times it was difficult to hold back the tears and emotions for a team that has been such a big part of my life. Peñarol fans will definitely be satisfied with this documentary, although I can`t say if other people unfamiliar with football or the team would be interested in this film. For me it worked really well and I was pleased with the 80 minute long documentary. There are several emotional moments during the film and 2011 has been quite a great year for us fans. One of my favorite films of the year and I`m sure almost every Peñarol fan will be pleased with this documentary: Manyas, this is Peñarol.