The surprising way Harrison Ford unknowingly helped get Bend It Like Beckham made

Gurinder Chadha, writer-director of the adored 2002 movie Bend It Like Beckham, has revealed that Harrison Ford unknowingly helped her film get made.

Chadha had been struggling to get financing from any of the UK public film-funding bodies for the movie, which is about a British-Indian girl (Parminder Nagra) whose family won’t let her play football despite the fact she has an excellent right foot.

Speaking at the annual Winston Baker International Film Finance Forum in Cannes this week, the filmmaker said: “I had been struggling to make this film because I really believed the world was changing at this point and I believed that my cultural paradigm was relevant and I was fresh and new to British filmmakers.

“I’d written a script with my husband Paul [Mayeda Berges] and it was very international… and a very human story and I just didn’t understand why the gatekeepers were passing on it.”

According to Deadline, Chadha said that when she discovered that her application for funding from the former UK Film Council was going to be rejected, she spoke to incoming CEO John Woodward, telling him: “I’m furious because when you guys all want me to do panels about how hard it is to make films, particularly if you’re a person of colour, you wheel me on to all of these platforms to talk about it and but now you’re not backing me – you have to back me.”

Chadha said she was told that she’d never get the film off the ground because she wouldn’t be able to find an Indian girl who can, indeed, bend it like Beckham. “That was the main reason they rejected the film,” said Chadha, explaining that she came back with: “Do you think Harrison Ford jumps out of helicopters?”

This point about the Indiana Jones star seemed to convince Woodward, helping Chadha to secure £1m to make her movie.

Chadha said that when she met Ford at a dinner in Cannes this year for the first time, she told him the story and he replied: “Well, I’m so glad I was able to help you with your career… and by the way, I do f***ing jump out of helicopters.”

Kiera Knightley and Parminder Nagra in ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ (Christine Parry/Bend It/Film Council/Kobal/Shutterstock)
Kiera Knightley and Parminder Nagra in ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ (Christine Parry/Bend It/Film Council/Kobal/Shutterstock)

Hollywood’s finest have been gathering in Cannes this week for the premieres of many highly anticipated films, including Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moonand Alicia Vikander-starrer Firebrand.

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