|NEW GENERATION QUEENS: A ZANZIBAR SOCCER STORY|
This feature documentary is the story of Zanzibar's women's soccer team, the New Generation Queens. The movie examines the history and culture around women's soccer in Zanzibar. It also follows the team to mainland Tanzania, where the Queens participate in a tournament for the first time and several hope to be recruited to the Tanzanian national team.
Megan Shutzer is an independent filmmaker based in San Francisco, California. Megan has been making documentaries since highschool, when her 2006 film, Conscience and Consciousness, which won the 2006 Institute for Civic Leadership Youth UN Summit Award. Megan's projects are subject driven, based on her experiences working in East and Southern Africa. Her current project, New Generation Queens: a Zanzibar soccer story is her first feature length documentary.
I first met the New Generation Queens when I traveled to Zanzibar for work in 2011. Fields dot the island, and every day I would see Zanzibaris playing on them, as well as on beaches, school grounds and in alleyways. Within hours of arriving in Zanzibar I had seen tens of soccer fields, but no women playing. I began to ask whether women played soccer in Zanzibar, and although most people would shake their heads and say no, every now and then someone would tell me, "Yes! There is a team." Eventually I found the New Generation Queens, sharing a field with a men's team and practicing outside the Zanzibar prison grounds. I laced up my cleats and joined them.
Sport is a powerful connector. Through soccer, I came to know more about Zanzibar and its culture than I had thought possible. I also got to know the girls on the New Generation Queens and I was quickly impressed with their tenacity and commitment. These girls are truly badass. For the New Generation Queens, playing soccer is not just a casual sport. Though Islam itself does not forbid women from playing soccer, many Zanzibaris interpret women's soccer as "immoral" on religious grounds. For this reason, the New Generation Queens face opposition from their families and communities. Yet the Queens defy the odds to participate. It is one of the few places where they can truly embrace their strength as women. They want to prove to the rest of the island that they can be women, athletes and Muslims.
After hearing about their struggles and their commitment to sharing this message with other girls on the island, the New Generation Queens and I decided to make this movie. I convinced a few talented friends to join me and returned to Zanzibar several times between 2011 and 2015 to film. The crew has grown to include a number of exceptional post-production editors and musicians to whom I am beyond grateful.