2013 Sundance Docs in Focus: THE CRASH REEL

crash reelThe next entry in Documentary Premieres welcomes back a four-time Sundance alum: Lucy Walker’s THE CRASH REEL, the story of snowboarder Kevin Pearce.

Sundance Program Description:

This eye-popping, yet intimate, story of U.S. champion snowboarder Kevin Pearce uses years of vérité footage to expose the excitement and appeal, as well as the high stakes, of participating in extreme-action sports. Training to compete against longtime rival Shaun White at the 2010 Winter Olympics, Kevin suffered severe traumatic brain injury from a 2009 accident in Park City, Utah. His tight-knit Vermont family flew to his side, and together they began an intensive process of trying to rehabilitate him and help him rebuild his permanently damaged life. Kevin’s determination and the tireless support of family and friends kept him focused on recovery. But when he insisted he wanted to return to the sport he loved, his family objected. As an elite athlete, Kevin was a professional risk taker, but as a brain-injury survivor, his skills were now impaired, and even a small blow to the head could kill him.

Academy Award–nominated director Lucy Walker’s latest film (WASTE LAND won the World Cinema Documentary Audience Award at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival) sheds light on the alarming trend of athletes pushing the boundaries of their sports past the limit. How much risk is too much? Her thoughtful and probing treatment of her subject enables us to share one family’s remarkable journey.

Some Background:
As noted above, Walker’s been to Park City several times – most recently with her Oscar-nominated and Sundance award-winning short, THE TSUNAMI AND THE CHERRY BLOSSOM (2012), and before that with the Oscar-nominated and Sundance Audience Award winner WASTE LAND (2010), COUNTDOWN TO ZERO (2010), and DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND (2002). Joining her as producer on the doc is Julian Cautherly, who is himself a Sundance alum with his beautiful skating themed dramatic short BLUE HAVEN (2002). Executive producers are HBO Documentaries’ Sheila Nevins (countless past Sundance titles, including, most recently, 2012’s ETHEL, MARINA ABRAMOVIC THE ARTIST IS PRESENT, and ABOUT FACE) and Impact Partners’ Dan Cogan and Geralyn Dreyfous (recent Sundance alums between them include last year’s THE INVISIBLE WAR, HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE, and THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES).

Why You Should Watch:
Given the subject, and the partial Utah setting, Walker’s film is sure to receive a welcome reception as this year’s Salt Lake City Gala screening. While winter and extreme sports enthusiasts might be an obvious audience for the doc in its more adrenaline-filled moments, its focus on Pearce’s sobering life- and career-changing injury universalizes its appeal.

More Info:
For more information on the doc, visit its Facebook page. For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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