Once in a Lifetime
Photos and Video
Return to the days of disco balls, .44-caliber killers, and the brief, brilliant flowering of major league soccer in America with Paul Crowder and John Dower's exuberant documentary about the New York Cosmos. Once in a Lifetime recounts the rise and fall of New York's beloved North American Soccer League franchise through archival footage, interviews with team players and executives, and a hip-shaking 1970's soundtrack. What started out as an ill-conceived effort by Warner Communications honcho Steve Ross to market soccer to New York's immigrant community turned into one of the most spectacular traveling roadshows of the Studio 54 era. The film traces the steady growth of Cosmomania from the team's early days dodging bits of broken glass on its home field on Randall's Island through the acquisitions of Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer, and other international superstars that briefly made the Cosmos-and soccer-the talk of Gotham. It was a deliciously weird time, when New York teetered on the brink of fiscal and moral collapse and when the words "I'm with the Cosmos" magically got you into all the hottest places. Once in a Lifetime is an infectiously entertaining roller coaster ride through one of the most fascinating periods in New York City history.
Director's Statement Collapse
For two sports-mad British directors, the chance to make a film that combines the backdrop of New York City in the 1970s and some of the greatest soccer players of all time was hard to resist. We began to explore the story and look into the main characters. After our first couple of research trips, we knew we had all the ingredients we needed, and more. Here was a collection of amazing and charismatic characters involved in the remarkable story of the world's most powerful nation attempting to import the world's most popular sport into its mainstream culture. Adding to this mix was the setting: one of the world's greatest cities during a particularly chaotic and intense time in its history, and hosted by some of the most passionate sports fans on either side of the Atlantic. We really felt that Once in a Lifetime could be a feature doc that would play to a worldwide audience.
Once in a Lifetime is one of those rare things, a story in which the main characters understood the extraordinary nature of their circumstances. They were able to look back at this amazing time in their lives with a great deal of insight and perspective. Through them, we discovered that this story, which we thought we knew, was filled with endlessly surprising twists and turns. We knew early on that for a retrospective feature documentary to really resonate, we needed lots of great music from that era, and the best possible archive available. Cinema audiences have come to expect these elements in feature docs, and we wanted to go beyond those expectations. In addition, it was imperative that we take on an editing style that would highlight the energy of the time and the excitement of the Cosmos world, while also adding significant momentum to the telling of the story. This is a funky, cool, unexpected, action-driven, and emotionally-charged story and it was important that the editing and visual style mirrored this world.
The more we researched, the more we found that this incredible story of the world's first Super Club finding a home in the most unlikely place really could only happen once in a lifetime.
Film Information Collapse
[LIFET] | 2006 | 93 | Documentary Feature
Directed by: John Dower and Paul Crowder
Foreign Title: (Once in a Lifetime)
Premiere: North American
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About the Director(s)Collapse
Director and editor Paul Crowder is a former musician who released several albums with his bands. In 1995, he quit music to become a film editor, working on over 50 episodes of VH1's Behind the Music. Crowder then met director Stacy Peralta, who asked him to edit the award-winning feature documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys and its sequel Riding Giants. In 2004, Crowder began directing commercials and television shows. He is making his feature directorial debut with Once in a Lifetime.
Writer/director John Dower began his film career making several critically acclaimed, low-budget documentaries. He teamed up with Academy Award®-winning producer John Battsek on Sneaker Freaks. They continued their association with the feature music documentary Live Forever, which premiered at the London Film Festival. Their third film Once in a Lifetime tackles their shared passion for soccer. Dower is developing a documentary on the soccer star Diego Maradona and a possible film on Nirvana.