As seen in the debut trailer that was released yesterday morning, the new film Concussion centers on a controversial issue within the world of professional football – following the true story of a doctor who fights the system on behalf of players who have been irreparably damaged by the game. For die-hard football fans, this may be kind of disconcerting, as it may look as though the movie is taking aim at the beloved full-contact sport – but now writer/director Peter Landesman has cleared the record, revealing that Concussion draws a line in the sand between the great pastime and the massive National Football League.

I had the pleasure of hopping on the phone with the filmmaker to talk about his new football-centric drama, and it was right out the gate that I asked about the expectations he has in the movie’s relationship with fans who truly love the sport. At first discussing his personal connection to the game (he played in college), and the fact that the movie has been tested with football-loving audiences, Landesman went on to say that he hasn’t made the film in an attempt to try and tear the whole sport down, and is instead pointing to a broken part of the current football system. He explained,
This isn’t about taking down the game. Even the people in the [test] audience who were strong NFL fans were able to make a very strong distinction between the game, which we love, and the National Football League – which is a massive international corporation that is interested, first and foremost, in making money. So there’s a very different and strong distinction.

In Concussion, Will Smith stars as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic neuropathologist who made a groundbreaking find when he discovered the disease known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in the brains of retired professional football players. Horrified seeing presented symptoms like memory loss, dementia, and aggression, Omalu began a David vs. Goliath-style fight against the National Football League in an attempt to get them to not only recognize the condition, but also support the players suffering from it.

Driving home his point about the NFL/football distinction, Peter Landesman also added that making the sport look aesthetically beautiful was something he actively worked towards while making Concussion, and that he wanted to use the film to really highlight elements that fans really love about it. Said the filmmaker,
In fact, when you see the movie, there’s a great deal of football in the movie, and a great deal of footage of beautiful, beautiful football. The movie in many ways embraces what’s great and graceful about it. So what I would say is that football fans, I almost guarantee them their money back, that they will like this movie as much as people who have other interests.

Concussion will be in theaters on Christmas Day, and you can head over to Page Two to watch the new trailer.

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