Russia’s World Cup has been dominated by lavish stadiums, sporting stars and all-night street parties.
No Ribbons, Trophies, Medals wants to tell a different story. By delving into grassroots clubs, it hopes to capture the real spirit of Russian football, found in in backyard kickabouts and amateur athletes across the country.
Among the heroes are a women’s football team from Russia’s conservative Caucasus region, fighting for acceptance both on and off the pitch.
Directed by Tair Poald-zade and Philipp Zadorozhny, the 35-minute short — Where Did Your Bride Go? — plays out against a backdrop of snowy mountain peaks and a strict, gendered society.
“When we were offered the chance to make a movie about football, we immediately thought about focusing on a women’s team,” says Polad-zade. “So we came to Vladikavkaz, spent three days there, and completely fell in love with what’s going on there, football-wise.”
The film culminates with a tense match against a local men’s team — but the directors are keeping the final score strictly under wraps.
“We came to a competition [where the team was was playing], and our team captain was there, sitting on a bench with a friend of hers. He started to argue that girls couldn’t play football and they ended up making a bet,” says Polad-zade. “We only filmed it on our phones, but later we realised that it’s a key episode in the film.”
The episode was released along with two more films, including a segment on the fan culture of Moscow’s Zulu Warriors and an episode focusing on a young footballer looking for acceptance after a childhood spent in a Russian orphanage.
“There is a parallel reality, invisible to the majority of people, that is gaining momentum: the reality of “unconventional” football,” says Stereotactic, the studio behind the film. “Young people driven by pure love for the game and neglecting official titles and awards are the blood and energy of this world.”
To watch the full collection from No Ribbons, Trophies, Medals, you can check out the complete film on YouTube here.