May 21, 2013

Pretty Brutal

Pretty Brutal screened last week in Wellington as part of the Documentary Edge Festival. The film follows three players from Pirate City Rollers, New Zealand's first Roller Derby team, across a year (advertised incorrectly as their first year). I was disappointed that the film maker, Monica De Alwis wasn't at the screening to field questions although two different people apologised for her.

This documentary reminded me what it was like to be passionate about Roller Derby. It's about the drama, the pageantry and a little bit about the violence...and the sport of course. The poster sums it up well; the closeness amongst players but the brutality of the sport.

The graphics throughout were impressive; vintage cut out women, a scoreboard with a little ship for each team and an explanation of the game that morphs into play itself (you can see that on the preview). These were probably part of the reason that it took Monica six years to get this off the ground, that and creating a storyline from hours of footage. She does a great job, the story is compelling. Although she follows three players the one that stands out is Pieces of Hate. I don't think this was intentional just that Hate steals the show.

Pieces of Hate corrects some errors about the documentary on her Facebook page; the league actually started in February 2006 not 2007 and there were "a lot more people who worked their arse off for pcr in the beginning that deserved more air time" (sic). From the looks of her page she's keeping herself busying taking training sessions up and down the country. Anecdotally I've heard that she was very busy at the first National Roller Derby tournament last year bench managing and coaching several of the newer teams.

I really enjoyed this documentary and would recommend it to any derby enthusiast. I was surprised to only recongise two players at the screening I attended. It's a shame that this wasn't completed earlier when it was more relevant although now there are so many leagues throughout the country there are more potential viewers. I think a follow-on documentary about the evolution of the sport and the split between Pirates and Auckland City to create the first intraleague only team would be well received.

You can see the preview for the documentary here
You can like Pieces of Hate on her official fan page on Facebook
The film has a website and Facebook

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