Israeli documentary on soccer racism wins Emmy

'Forever Pure,' first aired on PBS, is awarded prize for 'outstanding politics and government documentary.'

A STILL from the documentary 'Forever Pure.'  (photo credit: PBS)
A STILL from the documentary 'Forever Pure.'
(photo credit: PBS)
An Israeli documentary about racism in the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team won an award at the News and Documentary Emmys in New York on Monday night.
Forever Pure, a documentary by Maya Zinshtein, won the outstanding politics and government documentary, after it premiered on PBS last year.
“Forever Pure is a stranger-than-fiction documentary about an Israeli soccer club,” said executive producer Lois Vossen, who accepted the award on behalf of Zinshtein, who did not attend the ceremony. “We hope that it also becomes a warning of how racism can destroy a team or a society from within.”
The film premiered at the Jerusalem Film Festival in 2016, where it won best documentary and best director. It went on to air in the UK on BBC, and played at a wide variety of global festivals, including the Toronto International Film Festival.
The following year it was broadcast on Israeli TV and became available on Netflix and iTunes, and in May 2017, it aired on PBS stations across the US.
The documentary focuses on Beitar Jerusalem’s 2012-2013 season, which was mired in controversy and violence.
The team’s most hardcore fans have long been associated with the Israeli far-right, and it is known as the only team in Israel to never sign an Arab player. But in 2012, owner Arkady Gaydamak brought two Muslim players from Chechnya on board – and the team’s fans were furious. Fans chanted racist slogans against the two players, threatened to kill the team’s chairman and stormed out of the stadium when one of the new players scored a goal.
“I think Forever Pure is very much a film of our times,” Zinshtein told PBS last year. “And although it tells a story of one football team in Israel, it tells a much wider story of how the extreme margins can take over the silent majority.”