WRESTLE is an intimate and nuanced documentary that follows the wrestling team at JO Johnson High School in Huntsville, which has been on Alabama's failing schools list for many years.
As they fight their way towards the State Championship and the doors they hope it will open, wrestlers Jailen, Jamario, Teague, and Jaquan each face injustices and challenges on and off the mat. Together they grapple with obstacles that jeopardize their success, and their coach - coming to terms with his own past conflicts - pushes them forward while unwittingly wading into the complexities of class and race in the South.
Through it all, the young heroes of WRESTLE - with humor and grit - strive towards their goals, making WRESTLE an inspiring coming of age journey and an impassioned depiction of growing up disadvantaged in America today.
FIREFLY THEATER & FILMS and EXHIBIT A present "WRESTLE" //
JAILEN YOUNG JAMARIO ROWE JAQUAN RHODES TEAGUE BERRES and CHRIS SCRIBNER //
Music by DAVID WINGO and GRAHAM LEBRON // Associate Editor BLAIR MCCLENDON // Edited by PABLO PROENZA //
Director of Photography SINISA KUKIC // Consulting Producer SAM POLLARD //
Executive Producers MICHELINE LEVINE STEVEN STREIT WALKER DEIBEL CHAD TROUTWINE //
Produced by LAUREN BELFER STEVEN KLEIN SETH GORDON MARY ROHLICH SUZANNAH HERBERT
// Written by LAUREN BELFER SUZANNAH HERBERT PABLO PROENZA //
Co-Directed by LAUREN BELFER //
Directed By SUZANNAH HERBERT
"Directed by Memphis' own Suzannah Herbert, "Wrestle" — which embeds the viewer with a quartet of Hunstville, Alabama, high-school wrestlers — is a documentary about sports, youth and identity that deserves to be mentioned alongside "Hoop Dreams." (If the 2011 Memphis football film "Undefeated" can win the Best Documentary Oscar, why not "Wrestle"?) Herbert will attend."
"An outstanding documentary, "Wrestle" essentially embeds viewers with the wrestling team at a failing Huntsville, Alabama, high school. We'd say the film offers a fly-on-the-wall perspective, except a fly likely wouldn't be able to sculpt 650 hours of footage into a gripping 96 minutes of compassionate portraiture that suggests not only the much-acclaimed "Minding the Gap" but the current Starz high-school documentary series, "America To Me," from Steve "Hoop Dreams" James."
WRESTLE takes home Best Sports Feature and the Hot Springs Audience Award
"This documentary's intimate and personal cinematography and elegant editing impressed us and revealed a true mastery of craft. Through a contained story, the directors illuminated global truths and displayed tremendous patience, allowing the viewer to lean in and engage with both flawed and remarkable people at once. This film tells the story of Alabama teenagers attempting to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles t
"Today the Under the Lights Foundation awarded it’s first ever grant to the Mae Jemison High School wrestling team. A few weeks ago, some board members and I went to see the documentary “Wrestle” at the Sidewalk Film Festival. ...I want to give a special thanks to the directors behind the documentary “Wrestle” – Suzannah Herbert and Lauren Belfer. Your film inspired me and the board of the foundation to reach out and award this first grant to the wrestling program."
"Not to play favorites but Wrestle was one of my favorite films of the weekend. Although it’s a documentary, it’s framed in a way that builds a great narrative....I found myself rooting for these kids and begging for a happy ending. Herbert and Belfer are clearly talented and this documentary should be high on your list of films to watch for 2018."
"In its sobering conclusions, Wrestle has us question how much we undervalue poor children’s lives, circumstances and education in this country... Belfer, Herbert & co. were able to hone in on their slices of life without painting too broad a brush or making too simple a point for a complex and nuanced situation. It’s a feat that few filmmakers can achieve with honesty... It’s clear that Belfer, Herbert and their team are among those who can with true efficacy and artistry."
SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
included in the SF Launch Program
TRAVERSE CITY FILM FESTIVAL
SIDEWALK FILM FESTIVAL
awarded Best Alabama Film and Jailen Young was awarded the Spirit of Sidewalk
BALTIMORE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
WOODSTOCK FILM FESTIVAL
special Jury mention for Best Documentary Editing, Pablo Proenza
NEW ORLEANS FILM FESTIVAL
HOT SPRINGS FILM FESTIVAL
awarded Best Sports Documentary and the Hot Springs Audience Award
MILWAUKEE FILM FESTIVAL
INDIE MEMPHIS FILM FESTIVAL
awarded the Ron Tibbet Award of Excellence in Filmmakers and
the Documentary Features Audience Award
DENVER FILM FESTIVAL
awarded the Maysles Brothers Documentary Award
EAST LANSING FILM FESTIVAL
BAHAMAS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
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