With an ensemble cast of disabled actors, including Jesús Vidal, Goya-winner for Best New Talent, Champions (Campeones) is an insightful comedy that opened the #SpanishFilmFestival . It provides a fictionalised account of the 12 championship-winning basketball team Aderes, from Burjassot, Valencia, Spain. The story first invites laughs via the unwilling coach, Marco Montes (Javier Gutiérrez Álvarez), exasperated as he's court-ordered to serve as their coach for 3 months. This is his community service for driving three times (!) over the alcohol legal limit. Marco, a White able bodied man, has led a privileged life, as assistant coach to a major team. But his alcoholism is out of control and he's estranged from his wife. Marco is positioned as the centre of the film, but his story of personal redemption is the least engaging aspect of the story. Instead, this film interestingly shows a range of people with intellectual disabilities - they live independently, or with parents or in shared accommodation. They work hard (as kitchenhands, in animal care, as mechanics). Some can drive. They have romantic relationships. They have close families, others are alone. The message of the film is led by the disabled characters and it's beautifully handled - that teamwork is about doing your best but without humiliating opponents. .
Intersectionality: one disabled person of colour is a loving character. Gloria Ramos as Collantes, is the only woman player (she is White) and she's a superstar: self-assured, smart, funny and thrilling to watch. Disappointingly, homophobic jokes are used among the players, even though earlier Marco notes that gay slurs are not okay but less is known about ableism. A relationship with a sex worker is a cheap running gag that could've been an opportunity to endorse sex positivity. A sub plot about forcing Juanma & Marco to face their phobias is misguided. Marco is needlessly cruel to his wife, Sonia, but problematically this is supposedly because he loves her. This is infuriating. Marco is ableist about the risk of Sonia having children in late age, for which the film forgives him too easily. 7/10 Strong Credit. A fun and highly endearing watch