'It was nerve-wracking' | Asif...

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'It was nerve-wracking' | Asif Kapadia on making Diego Maradona film

Eoin Harte
Eoin Harte

11:43 13 Jun 2019


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Asif Kapadia was on Thursday’s OTB AM to talk about his new documentary, simply titled Diego Maradona.

The documentary contains never before seen footage from the 1980s during the star's time in Naples, much of which was originally supposed to be for a film that Maradona’s agent, Jorge Cyterszpiler, had intended on releasing.

“He had this idea in 1981, just before he goes to Barcelona, that Maradona’s such a huge star, he’s going to be so global, he could be big in America. Let’s make a movie about him and we’ll bring it out in the cinema screens in North America,” Kapadia explained.

The film, though, was never completed and the tapes remained untouched for decades, some in Naples and some in a trunk in Buenos Aires belonging to Maradona’s ex-wife, Claudia Villafañe.

“Literally these tapes had not been looked at for 30 years. We had to find a machine on eBay because they’re not industry standard anymore.

“Even hardcore Napoli fans or Diego fans have never seen this material,” Kapadia commented.

Maradona, an eccentric but private man, wasn’t used to his personal life being the focus of intense scrutiny from the British filmmaker. The Argentina legend was used to deflecting personal questions, but Kapadia persisted.

“There was a point where he said, ‘you’ve got a real nerve asking me these questions. People don’t normally interrupt me when I’m answering. People don’t normally ask me these difficult questions. But for that, I respect you because you’ve got the nerve to say them to my face.’

“So it was a bit of a nerve-wracking moment but it was a key thing that I had to keep pushing,” Kapadia said.

Director Asif Kapadia poses for photographers upon arrival at the screening for 'Diego Maradona'.

The film (read our review here) acts as the final part in a trilogy of films Kapadia has made, with the previous two being about Brazilian motor-racer Ayrton Senna and English musician Amy Winehouse.

Unlike the stars of those two documentaries, Diego Maradona is still alive, which Kapadia found challenging at first - from a filmmaking perspective.

“At the beginning, it makes it more difficult because I’ve got this pressure of I’ve got to talk to this guy and meet him. And then you’ve got the issue of a lot of famous people - the challenge of getting to meet him, getting past the entourage.

“I met him and I liked him but then there’s the question of the person I’m meeting in 2019, is that actually the same person I’m making the film about? Is he the most reliable witness for his own story?

“That was an interesting challenge, which I wanted because the film was about growing up and getting old,” Kapadia explained.

Diego Maradona is out in cinemas on June 14th.

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