The 2018 festival will take place Nov. 1-11, 2018. Below is information regarding the 2017 festival.

Men in the Arena


Saturday, Nov. 12 at 7:30pm

A touching story of friendship, struggle, and triumph, “Men in the Arena” follows the journey of two friends on the Somali national soccer team who face impossible odds to fulfill their dreams. After surviving two decades of war, Saadiq, 17, and Sa’ad, 20, the team’s most promising stars, enter the only televised match of the year, desperately hoping that scouts will be watching. With their passports of no value on the world stage, the players recognize that soccer may be their only ticket to escape ever-growing threats of terror, persecution, and poverty. Against this backdrop of fear and sacrifice, they embark on separate but equally improbable journeys. In the opportunity of a lifetime, Saadiq sets off for America with dreams of an education and a soccer career. Sa’ad continues his career in Mogadishu with the hopes of someday being reunited with his friend. Their biggest dream is shared — to be symbols of hope to generations who have only known war.

87 min.

Directed by

J.R. Biersmith


Kenya Somalia U.S.

Film Category

Human Rights Spotlight International Spotlight Leon & Mary Strauss Documentary Spotlight Show-Me Cinema


Human Rights Immigration Sports War Youth
With director Biersmith, who is a native St. Louisan, and subjects Sa'ad and Saadiq, who both now reside in St. Louis.

Sponsored by

Erv & Linda Rhode

Film Website

Official Website