A film by Corneliu Porumboiu
2018, 70 minutes
No. 187


A leading figure of the Romanian New Wave, Corneliu Porumboiu – known for award-winning features like 12:08 East to Bucharest, Police, Adjective and The Treasure –  often uses keen observation and humor to explore his country’s transition from decades of communism to capitalism, or rather, a Kafkaesque form of state bureaucracy.

With his hilarious and politically incisive new documentary, Infinite Football, Porumboiu continues his fascination with these issues by introducing us to Laurentiu Ginghină, a former soccer star and current local bureaucrat, who dreams of radically revolutionizing the rules to his beloved sport.

After an injury abruptly cut short his budder soccer career, Ginghina has been determined to ‘improve’ the game; devising new rules and regulations in a never-ending process of continual revision: from eliminating corners (for a more octagonal field) to creating player subteams to adding quadrants that can't be crossed… 'infinite football.'

But as Porumboiu follows Ginghină – spending time with him at his government office (capturing the banal and mundane nature of his work), listening to his stories (including his foiled attempt at starting an orange farm in Florida) and watching an actual test run of his game at a local gym – it becomes apparent that Ginghină has other issues on his mind, that he is in actuality attempting to understand, and correct, something far greater: functioning societies, social systems, fate, freedom, individual responsibility, and utopianism. 

With deadpan humor and aching sincerity, Corneliu Porumboiu’s brilliant Infinite Football uses the sport of soccer as a parable for society and as a means of understanding the world we choose to live in.

Official Selection, Berlin Film Festival
Official Selection, Art of the Real, Film Society of Lincoln Center

“Astounding. One of the most original and visionary documentary films to have emerged recently. Porumboiu cinematically constructs—both through the patient, subtly but decisively shaped interviews and the cannily gradual editing—a life story that engages, at crucial points of contact, with the political history of his times.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker

“Critic’s Pick! Corneliu Porumboiu’s new documentary, nominally about world’s most popular sport, moves onto a plane of mysticism This relatively short film contains worlds.” – Glenn Kenny, The New York Times

“Hilarious and heartbreaking. The documentary’s deceptive simplicity invites wide-ranging reflections on the relationship between systemic rules and personal freedom.” – Giovanni Camia, Sight & Sound

“A wonderful, drolly humane new documentary.” – Jessica Kiang, Variety

"The protagonist of Corneliu Porumboiu’s latest film is absurdly eloquent… a quixotic figure stranger than fiction and larger than life. His theory of ‘Infinite Football’ is both ludicrous and truly utopian.” – Filmmaker Magazine

"A movie about a sport that reimagines how we think about how it’s played... Poromboiu’s doc might present itself as a Herzogian portrait of a self-possessed dreamer, but every laugh in Infinite Football is followed by a bitter political backwash." – David Ehrlich

“Reminiscent of… Abbas Kiarostami’s Close-Up and Jafar Panahi’s This Is Not a Film. You can’t help thinking—especially if football itself holds no interest for you—that what’s really at stake here is not so much sport as the nature of cinema itself.” – Jonathan Romney, Film Comment