If you are are a rugby fan, a runner or simply a documentary film fan – two films showing this weekend at Visions du Réel are well worth watching.
Ultra (about the 246 kilometres marathon) will be screened on Saturday 22nd at 17:00 in the Théâtre de Grand-Champ in Gland and on Sunday 23rd at 21:00 in the Colombière Grande Salle in Nyon.
First Try (about a rugby team made up of prison inmates) will be screened on Saturday 22nd at 22:00 at the Théatre de Marens in Nyon and on Sunday 23rd at 13:45 in the Théâtre de Grand-Champ in Gland.
Here are two short reviews of each film plus trailers. The first review is by the editor and the second by a reader who is also a runner.
The Giallo Dozza (Yellow Card) is a rugby team in Bologna, Italy made up of players between 20-36 years old. But this is no ordinary rugby team, it is made up of inmates in a prison who have been sentenced from anything from four years to life. The purpose of the rugby team is to help with the physical, social and educational rehabilitation of the players. As their coach tells them at the beginning of the film, “The team is called the Yellow Card because everyone is trying to get back in the game with better behaviour”.
The opening scene shows the players training in a scrum machine in the prison grounds, players train in all weathers on the prison grounds, they learn tactics, they learn to curb their tempers, new members are brought into the team and have to learn to wait to play. All of this is under the watchful eye and careful guidance of their coach Max. An inspirational leader he encourages them and cajoles them to do better. The team only play home games and when they do Max insists on professionalism at all times. His inmate team are from all over the world but when they are together they are a unit.
Director Enza Negroni shows the life of the prisoners off the field and inside the prison, reading correspondence from loved ones, praying in a cell which has been turned into a mosque, they train and keep fit against the background of the austere, grey prison walls and all the time being watched by the prison guards. And then of course it’s about the match, will the team win the next game? Who will be chosen for the team?
This is a beautifully shot, wonderful, poignant film, with an excellent soundtrack. Negroni does not tell any back stories of the prisoners, as viewers we judge them purely on their skills on and off the pitch and as they interact with each other.
At 1 hour 16 minutes, the length of the film is perfect, enough to tells this interesting and very human story.
This weekend is the Lausanne 20 km races. For those who didn’t get your application in on time, or for those who finish early, take yourself along on a journey with runners tackling the Spartathalon, a mere 246 km from Athens to Sparta. This Ultra distance run, inspired by the feat of Pheidippides in 490BCE, has to be completed within 36 hours.
Filmed by one of the runners, and featuring four others, it follows them through the race and demonstrates well how addictive running can be, and how driven the participants are even to the point of becoming disorientated. There are some back stories but this is really about the metronomic progress along the 246 km. It’s not really a race against other participants, but it is against the clock, the body and the mind.
As one of the runners says “Not strong enough to finish, not strong enough to give up” there are a range of outcomes that are hard to foresee and that keep the interest to the end. Whilst your reviewer is unlikely to sign up for the Spartathalon anytime soon, he has subsequently been on the Lausanne 20km website with a view to 2018…