CHENNAI: Nefta Football Club is a short film directed by France’s Yves Piat. In the race for the Oscars in the Best Live Action Short Film, the movie won awards at several festivals. In about 17 minutes, Piat tells us a witty story about how a cartload of narcotics finds its way — not to the market, but onto a football ground.
Set on the southern border between Tunisia and Algeria, two young brothers take a break on a deserted road. One of the boys wanders off and comes across a donkey with headphones. At a distance, two men are waiting for the donkey to turn up. The donkey is carrying narcotic drugs, and the boys chance upon it.
The plot pans out nicely and continues to surprise. You would expect a dark and sinister drama, but instead Piat gives us levity, examining the enormity of the evil through two young boys — one who knows that he can make money out of the drugs, and the other who has no idea what the white powder is all about. He assumes it to be chalk powder, and make good use of it — much to the chagrin of his elder sibling.
The story has been developed from Piat’s childhood. Hanging out with his friends, the director once came across a camping stove with a huge amount of white powder in small plastic bags. He and his friends knew what it was and how lethal it could be, and so they dumped the drug in a river. They were tempted to make money out of it, but refrained.
The film refers to real situations. Smugglers use donkeys fitted with headphones to guide them to their destinations. Piat weaves such details into his narrative. The casting is superb, and the characters are well written. The children, played by Eltayef Dhaoui and young Mohamed Ali Ayari, give a compelling performance.