Program 11: Mario
Directed by Marcel Gisler
Mario (Max Hubacher) is on the verge of achieving his lifelong dream: playing in Europe’s top professional soccer league with his hometown team. Entering his final season in the top Under-21 league, all Mario has to do to earn his much-anticipated promotion to fame and fortune is keep his head down, work hard, and play well. But when his team adds a flashy new teammate, Mario’s dream season immediately seems threatened.
Like Mario, talented new striker Leon (Aaron Altaras) from Hanover, Germany is just one step away from stardom. Initially in competition with one another, the new teammates soon realize that working together will make each of them better and help them both achieve their goal. To help them develop a better on-field chemistry, the team orchestrates a shared apartment for their two star players. But for Mario, living with his superattractive new rival opens the door to a whole new set of off-field complications.
Though unspoken, the mutual attraction is obvious. Once Leon finally makes the first move, a passionate sexual relationship begins. Mario resists falling in love, but despite his efforts to remain focused, the relationship intensifies. Madly in love, the two must now navigate the hyper-masculinity of the locker room, the politics of professional sports, and the weighty expectations resting on their shoulders.
Hubacher, who took home Switzerland’s top acting honor for this role, and Altaras bring writer-director Marcel Gisler’s brilliant screenplay to life with tremendous depth and understated emotion. Mario is filmed on location in Stade de Suisse with spectacular sports scenes, providing a remarkable backdrop for its powerful story. Gisler’s picture-perfect storytelling resists melodrama and formulaic turns, consistently finding new ways to grip its audience. Once Mario has you in its grasp, it won’t let go until long after you’ve finished watching it.
— Stephen K. Weisenreder
AWARDS & ACCOLADES
- AUDIENCE AWARD, BEST FEATURE – OUTshine Miami LGBT Film Festival
- SWISS FILM PRIZE, BEST ACTOR (Max Hubacher)
- SWISS FILM PRIZE, BEST PERFORMANCE IN A SUPPORTING ROLE (Jessy Moravec)
- JURY AWARD, BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE – FilmOut San Diego
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – Frameline San Francisco Int’l LGBTQ Film Festival
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival