April 29, 2011 by manniehall
Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker’s documentary about Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) premiered yesterday, on the first night of the Hot Docs festival in Toronto. Initially, I can’t say I was thrilled about seeing Fightville, a doc about the grisly world of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) - only having been exposed to a certain dimension of the sport on television. But, energized by a passionate audience and some terrific film making, I’m beginning to see a side to UFC I never really considered before.
Epperlein and Tucker followed two up-and-coming fighters Albert Stainback and Dustin Poirier. Once you get past the blood, bruises and broken teeth (some difficult scenes to withstand for someone who grows dizzy from a paper-cut), you realize these men are really like any one of us - working towards a goal of being the best in their craft. That’s something most people can subscribe to, and it’s what draws you into Fightville, and keeps you invested in the duo as they go from small-time sparring to UFC matches.
This movie is really about the American dream. It’s just a little more extreme than the American dream. — Tim Credeur
Albert, in particular, is a delight on screen, with childlike enthusiasm for fighting and an affinity for A Clockwork Orange - he channels the character of Alex prior to his matches, bowler hat, tilted glance and all. Meanwhile, Dustin, the more diligent of the two, has only one thing in mind: winning. If there are any jealousies or hang-ups between the pair, we don’t see it - it’s a tight brotherhood between the fighters: a culture we’d be hard-pressed to observe from the pay-per-view matches and flashy commercials.
Filmmaker Michael Tucker attended last night’s premiere with Dustin and trainer Tim Credeur, who also figures significantly in the 90-minute documentary. Here’s some video I shot from my phone of the team taking questions from the audience and discussing the filmmaking process.