Director: Laura McGann Starring: Christopher ‘Violent Bob’ Goggins, Rhona ‘Crow Jane’ Flynn Running Time: 86 minutes
Revolutions isn’t just a documentary about the sport of roller derby in Ireland, it goes so much deeper. It serves as a snapshot into the lives of young, ambitious people struggling to find a way through the recession in Ireland too. McGann spent 6 years filming the ups and downs of the (then) two Irish roller derby teams and their fearless spirit.
McGann focuses mostly on the coaches of both the Dublin Roller Girls (now Dublin Roller Derby) and the Cork City Firebirds, as well as a few key players who help tell their stories. It follows the early days of both teams’ formations and the struggles they have faced. Roller derby, unfortunately, is not a way to make a living in Ireland. All positions are unpaid, so it is only through the drive that is displayed that these teams exist at all. McGann shows us the sacrifices and stresses of day to day upkeep, leading all the way through the creation of the Irish team.
Roller derby is often dismissed because it’s a smaller sport, it’s women-focused or just because the rules are seen as complicated. There is a cleverly edited scene in the documentary that clears up the game very early on. In fact, the editing throughout the entire film is very well done. It was handled with care in every aspect, clearly a beloved project by all involved.
The rivalry that develops between the two is fascinating, as well as any tensions within the two teams. The documentary feels very personal and intimate. McGann shows us the reality of these legitimate sports stars in their day to day lives. The mundane truth of public transport, day jobs and creatives seeking a rewarding path during a harsh economic recession are not shied away from. It would have been easy to only show the highlights and what these women are capable of. Having spent time training with the Dublin team as well as cheering from the stands at many games for both teams, this writer knows how incredible the players are. These young people put themselves in the way of physical harm every time they roll onto the track. This was a documentary we needed.
What began as a small project for McGann, after discovering there were indeed people playing roller derby in Ireland, soon developed into a film that simply had to be created. This was due in part to an offhand remark made by Firebirds’ coach Crow Jane. But it gave her the drive to seek funding from the Irish Film Board so she could follow the Irish team, which comprised of members of both prominent teams, to Toronto for the World Cup. The making of this documentary perfectly reflects the subject matter, young people with a fire in their belly and the tenacity to follow their passions no matter the obstacles. This film is highly recommended for those curious about this seemingly hidden world of sport within Ireland.
We spoke to McGann recently about the making of Revolutions, if you’re interested in hearing more.
(5 / 5)