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One of the standout films of BFI Flare in London this year was most definitely Mario.

Mario is a Swiss/German language film (English subtitles) about two footballers who fall in love whilst training for the big leagues. Director Marcel Gisler definitely has an indie hit on his hands after the warm reception the film received at BFI Flare this year, which served as the European premiere.

The beauty of this movie most definitely lies within it’s perfect casting. In the lead title role, you have Max Hubacher, the character that is struggling with his newfound love for the team’s talented new transfer Leon – played by the stunning Aaron Altaras.

When Mario and Leon move in together for training purposes, the drama starts to delicately unfold. You see, Leon is but is a bit more free-spirited than Mario and doesn’t hide his affection for Mario in such close quarters. Leon makes the first move and the two quickly fall into love. It’s however apparent that Mario holds onto a lot of fear about his career, what his father will think and can’t decide between following his heart or following his only dream of being a celebrated footballer.

Whilst Mario and Leon have a chemistry on field that makes a few teammates jealous, even to the point of blackmail, the chemistry between the two as roommates makes for some beautiful cinema. Overall, the film is a bit predictable in places as you watch the two leads navigate the homophobic world of European football, but it’s quite easy to get lost in Mario’s sublime, yet simple storyline which never has you looking at your watch in this beautifully told two hour love story.

Hats off to Marcel Gisler too. He managed to find a stadium of real football fans who didn’t mind serving as hundreds of extras for this gay little film about footballers. That alone says something quite cool and perhaps is a sign that maybe now it’s time for other athletes to come out of the closet and join Tom Daley, Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy in solidarity for a sports world free of homophobia.

As soon as Mario hits any sort of screen, buy a ticket, rent or download it – you won’t be disappointed.

Mario will be distributed Peccadillo Pictures later this year.

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