February 16, 2011

Major MMA Documentary to Premiere at SXSW Film Festival on March 12, 2011

For those looking for a sign that MMA is crossing over to the mainstream, the New York Times recently reported that of the 1,792 feature films submitted to the 2011 edition of the prestigious SXSW Film Festival in Austin, the largest single category of films represented were about combat sports. One of those films, FIGHTVILLE directed by Pepper & Bones, will premiere in the documentary competition at the fest on March 12, 2011.

The popularity of the subject matter doesn’t surprise the film’s co-director Michael Tucker, “When we first started filming FIGHTVILLE we knew very little about MMA, but after 18 months of filming we really came to love the culture of the fight world. Fighting is the stuff that movie legends are made of–who hasn’t wanted to be Rocky or Bruce Lee? MMA is the evolution of that legacy.”

However, as fast as the sport is growing, there is still a gap to mainstream acceptance and the filmmakers hope that FIGHTVILLE will open the door to MMA for a new audience. “Popular culture has long embraced boxing and there is storied history of literary greats championing the sport. Hemingway, London and Mailer were all fighters. That’s just now beginning to happen with MMA and we hope that Fightville will be able to introduce a wider audience to the beauty and passion of the sport while elevating the perception of MMA,“ says Tucker.

SXSW is the fastest growing media festival in the country, with film, interactive and music components. Last year, nearly 40,000 industry attendees swarmed into Austin looking for the next big thing. “SXSW is where decision makers come to take the pulse of popular culture and we are excited to premiere FIGHTVILLE in a place that embraces the future,” says Tucker.

The film focuses on the world of an up-and-coming feeder promotion called USA-MMA run by Gil Guillory in Lafayette, Louisiana–a place where fighting, for many, is as much ritual as it is sport. In FIGHTVILLE, life is a contest and the area around Lafayette, which includes a neighborhood that is the namesake of the film, has no shortage of fighters. Many of them train with veteran UFC fighter Tim Credeur at his Gladiators Academy, where more than just making champions, he seeks to “build better men”. One of those fighters, Dustin Poirier, quickly became the focus of the film, after a series of dramatic victories. “The first time I saw Dustin fight, I was immediately taken with him. You could just tell that the kid was going places,” says Tucker.

And go places he did, Poirier, defying all odds, recently defeated Josh Grispi at his UFC debut. “Dustin defines dedication for me. More than just fighting, FIGHTVILLE is about what it takes to be the best at anything,” says Tucker.

FIGHTVILLE will world premiere on Saturday March 12th at 4:30pm in the Vimeo Theater at the Austin Convention Center.

Film Synopsis:

Yell out “fight!” on a street corner and a crowd will always come running–at once attracted and repelled by the violent spectacle of man acting on his most primal urge. The draw of two men fighting is as old as civilization itself, but as far back as Plato, the sport of fighting has been at odds with the notion of a civil society. Over the last decade, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has grown from a controversial no-holds-barred gladiatorial sideshow into a billion dollar phenomenon eclipsing boxing as the dominant combat sport in the world. But far from Las Vegas, in sweat-soaked gyms and low-rent arenas across America, the big lights are but a dream. Here, men fight to test their mettle, fortified with the mythic promise that an ordinary man can transform into a champion.

FIGHTVILLE is about the art and sport of fighting: a microcosm of life, a physical manifestation of that other brutal contest called the American Dream, where men are not born, but built through self determination, hard work and faith. It may be a myth, but in FIGHTVILLE, that’s what champions are made of.

About Pepper & Bones:

Pepper & Bones are the filmmaking duo Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker best known for their epic chronicle of the Iraq War that began with the release of the acclaimed GUNNER PALACE in 2004 by Palm Pictures. Their second film, THE PRISONER, was released by Red Envelope/Netflix and went on to be nominated for an Independent Spirit Award in 2007. Later that year they embarked to Afghanistan where they filmed BULLETPROOF SALESMAN. In 2009, their final war film, HOW TO FOLD A FLAG premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. FIGHTVILLE will mark their fourth appearance at SXSW.



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