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“It’s their history outside of their wins and losses; it’s the cultural, religious, linguistic, class ramifications to all of it. The Habs are more than just a hockey team and the Celtic are more than just a football club.”
Toronto-based Montrealer Baruchel — known for such movies as How to Train Your Dragon and This Is the End — shares his passion for sports and explores his Irish roots in the new documentary Celtic Soul.
Celtic F.C., part of the Scottish Premier League, has an extremely loyal fan base worldwide, with an estimated nine million fans around the globe, including 19 supporter clubs in Canada. The team was founded in 1887 by St. Mary’s church in Glasgow “to accommodate all the Irish Catholic immigrants who came over as a result of the potato famine,” Baruchel explained.
“There’s an element of childhood encapsulated in sports support, whatever your team is… and you can live vicariously through supporting a particular organization.”
The duo’s exchanges have obvious parallels to the witty banter between Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in the food-focused films The Trip and The Trip to Italy, but in this case Baruchel and O’Callaghan are fixated on sport.
With the two bonding over their mutual love of Celtic F.C., the doc becomes a sort of buddy movie; their bromance blossoming as Baruchel shows O’Callaghan the Bell Centre — where his beloved Habs play hockey — before they journey to Scotland to witness a Celtic practice, hang out with players and attend a game at the enormous soccer stadium fans have nicknamed Paradise.
For Baruchel — who co-wrote the popular hockey movie Goon and makes his directorial debut with what promises to be a profanity-laced sequel, Goon: Last of the Enforcers, in March — the desire to cheer for a particular team is deeply rooted in being human.
“There’s just something awe-inspiring about watching an incredible feat of athleticism and you throw that into the cultural context of them being the representatives of your village and that’s a recipe for a lifelong addiction.”