Documentary Feature Competition: Fake It So Real
As a teenager in love for the first time, I surprised myself and everyone around me by thoroughly enjoying a date to a professional wrestling match…you know, the kind with gross characters, elaborate costumes and much fake ado. To those close to me, my enthusiasm likely seemed sufficient evidence to substantiate that love is blind. To me, my utter enjoyment of what I’d always thought to be a truly ridiculous “sport” seemed compelling proof that love conquers all. So decades later, it surprised me even further to find myself completely mesmerized at a dateless viewing of “Fake It So Real,” a behind the scenes look at the real life characters in the wrestling world.
The documentary displays the seriousness in which these men approach what they truly perceive to be their “art.” With stage names like Dr. Love, Gabriel (as in the angel), and Van Damage, there is creativity behind the development of the characters that seem to evolve from the wrestlers’ own painful life experiences. With a history of major health issues since birth, ”J-Prep” kind of believes that his seriously inflated buttocks, a source of a lifetime of ridicule, resulted from weekly injections into his buttocks as a child. His character, born from an answer to a repeated prayer “God, give me some way to use this ass,” now receives applause by the small crowds as he mounts the ring with a pair of lips largely displayed across his behind.
“Fake It So Real” is filled with interesting real-life characters from the Millennium Wrestling Federation, including Director Robert Greene’s cousin Chris Baldwin aka “Chris Solar.” A sense of family develops under the auspices of Jeff Roberts, “the backbone” of the group whose dedication propels him from his sick bed in order not to miss even one match in ten years. In spite of the wrestlers’ juvenile antics like ribbing each other with speculation about who might be “gay,” filmmaker Robert Greene knows how to capture the wrestlers’ humanity on screen. The film effectively paints a portrait of the sense of purpose, the camaraderie and the outlet from emotional pain that wrestling provides for these men. The wrestling ring is their stage; this film can actually make you understand why. And for these men, their love of wrestling may indeed conquer all. Catch the film on Friday, April 15th @ 7:45pm or Sunday, April 17th @12:45 pm; you might just become captivated.
Narrative Feature Competition: Old Cats
The Jury Prize at last year’s Sarasota Film Festival went to directors Pedro Peirana and Sebastian Silva for “The Maid,” a hilarious dramatization of the life of a housekeeper. This year, the directors return with “Old Cats,” a film focusing on yet another dysfunctional family. The film centers around Isadora, an aging mother painfully aware of her gradual loss of lucidity and Rosario, her coked-up lesbian daughter who needs money for her habit more than the love she professes to need. A protective,devoted husband resented by his money-hungry step-daughter adds to the mix along with Rosario’s lover whose compassionate nature can’t help but lean towards Isadora at times. While viewers may attribute Rosario’s woundedness to her mother’s deficits in parenting, her self-absorbed behavior leaves little room for sympathy. One can’t help but respond to the unfortunate choices left to her aging mother -- to that point in life we all fear when none of the choices left seem like a good choice. Although billed as a comedy, Old Cats feels more like a tragic drama, one that will be enjoyed for its rawness by indie film lovers. Old Cats will be shown on Saturday, April 16 @ 7:30pm and Sunday, April 17th at 6:15 pm.
Stay tuned for more sneak previews of the films from the Sarasota Film Festival. Tickets sell fast, so get your tickets early.