About the Film
In a series of charming opening shots, we see a scene familiar in most Arab cities: a group of kids playing football on the street. Until we recognize the unconventional element on the screen—a girl is playing with them. This takes place before the film introduces us to its characters.
17 is a film that recounts the journey of Jordan’s national U-17 women’s team to the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup; a team made up entirely of girls playing a traditionally “masculine” game, in a country whose women continue to fight for the most basic of rights. The film tackles questions concerning the place of women in Jordanian society with a fresh perspective, steering away from cheap, sentimental tropes.
The story follows a traditional narrative structure, starting with an introductory act where we meet the film’s main characters, before moving onto the process of recruiting the team and the players’ preparations for the World Cup. Yet beneath the seemingly simple story are subtle allusions to the discrepancies hidden beneath the expectedly shiny image of a girls’ football team.
One of the girls mentions previous Jordanian managers’ attempts to exclude her from the team because of a disease she had. Another speaks about the difficulties of communicating with other girls in the team, being from different social classes. When the team’s foreign manager chooses not to include a certain player, he is exposed to the reality of how things work in Jordan, where the personal, the social and the professional intertwine. It is these incidents that turn the film into a clever window onto the afflictions of Jordanian society, rather than a mere documentation of a few football
games. 17 is director Widad Shafakoj’s debut documentary feature.
Widad Shafakoj a Jordanian-Spanish filmmaker and humanitarian activist, graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Arts in Interior Design and started her career as a film set designer before being accepted in a scholarship from SAE in Jordan to study filmmaking. Her debut award winning film ID: 000, a short documentary about orphans in Jordan had concrete effects on changing the Jordanian laws that
concern orphans. Her first feature documentary If You Meant to Kill Me (2014) addresses the controversial topic of women faced with threats of honour killing who voluntarily turn themselves into prison for their own protection. 17 is her second and latest feature documentary.