Thursday, 1 March 2012
Title Fight on Film
From 5 to 11 April 2012, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) presents an Easter smack down exploring life inside and outside the ring with a series of films about mixed martial arts, wrestling and boxing in the program Title Fight on Film.
In the film Fightville (2011), directors Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein investigate the world of one of the biggest sports on the planet; mixed martial arts. Showing what life is like for potential contenders outside the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) - the largest and most powerful promoter of the sport worldwide - the filmmakers put the spotlight on the more amateur and grassroots environment of the Gladiators Academy in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Following the lives of up and coming fighters Dustin Poirier and Albert Stainback, trainer and UFC fighter Tim 'Crazy' Credeur, and charismatic promoter Gil 'The Thrill' Guillory, Fightville goes a long way to altering the perception of mixed martial arts as little more than a violent and bloody sport. Through intriguing character studies, the film reveals a world of strange contradictions intercut with brilliant action sequences filmed by co-director Michael Tucker.
In David Fincher's Fight Club (1999), the film adaptation of Chick Palaniuk's cult novel, the boxing ring becomes a metaphor for a trip into the mental abyss. Starring Edward Norton as an unhappy office worker who establishes a 'fight club' with soap producer Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), the film also features Helena Bonham Carter as Marla Singer, whose sinister behaviour provides constant temptation for the film's unnamed hero (Norton).
Directed by Ruth Leitman, Lipstick and Dynamite: The First Ladies of Wrestling (2004) explores the lives of some of the most popular wrestling queens from the 1940s and 50s including the Fabulous Moolah, the Great Mae Young, Gladys 'Killem' Gillem, and Penny Banner. Through candid interviews and rare archival footage, the ladies reveal the hardships they experienced in an industry filled with petty promoters and dodgy deal makers.
Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and an Oscar nominee for Best Documentary, On the Ropes (1999) remains one of the most powerful documentaries of the 90s. In one of Brooklyn's toughest neighbourhoods, Bedford Styvesant, lies the New Bed-Stu Boxing Gym. Despite its dilapidated condition, the gym provides a lifeline for the men who train there, and discover that their biggest fight is outside the ring on the streets of their neighbourhood.
"There's an intriguing internal struggle going on in all these films," said ACMI Head of Film Programs Richard Sowada. "On the one hand, the world of these players is brutal and unforgiving - literally life or death. On the other, there's great depth to their observations, surprising softness in their personal reflections, and shattering clarity in their social commentary."
Title Fight on Film screens from 5 to 11 April at ACMI in Melbourne. For full program information and screening times, please visit acmi.net.au.
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