Lucy Walker: The Crash Reel

OK, this film represents everything that I dislike about a certain kind of documentaries: It is – to quote the description in the site of the festival here in Zagreb – ”eye-popping”, ”stunning” and I could add sentimental over-the-limit of decency and what is worst: hypocritical.

The film shows how a young really good snow boarder, Kevin Pearce, crashes dramatically (you are invited ”to enjoy” the accident again and again), recovers his brain injury, wants to get back to the sport, mum and dad and brothers (one of them with down’s syndrom) don’t like the idea, the doctors warn him as his brain is not as it was, and at the end he gives up and starts a fund/social movement it is called called ”Love your Brain”. Halleluja!

The hyprocrisy comes in through the storytelling that the director has chosen. She paints a super glamorous picture of the sport and its young fit practitioners. Fantastic images of their acrobatic jumps and movements in the air, all wrapped in music from wall to wall, and of course a hurrah for an artificial world that is full of money and commercials. She points at the competitive point between Kevin and Shaun White, another snow boarder, it’s all very good and healthy. Accompanied by visits to the house of the understanding family Pearce, who sits down at the dinner table and talks about Kevin and what he wants with his sport and life – brother David with the down’s syndrom is the one who says that he suffers from Kevin’s playing with life and death. And mother crying again and again as she goes around with her son to doctors and psychiatrists… It’s just too much…

And then at the end of the film, after another injury where a young female snow boarder dies (of course we see the deadly crash), the film tries to raise just a bit of discussion about the sport… and we hear a panel of the young colleagues of Kevin express that they have also broken this and that in their bodies many times but… why bother, is the impression of the message you get after having been through the visual hymn to a sport that is dangerous but produces superb and entertaining and sensational images!   

USA, 2013, 109 mins.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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