Thursday, June 27, 2013

Film Preview [From a personal perspective]: Rio 2016 (2013) Bianca Rotaru

By Olivia Maria Hărşan

We all know that Romanians are the best at gymnastics (and if you did not know then you do now!). It all began with Nadia Comăneci when she effortlessly scored a perfect 10 during the Montreal Olympics of 1976. She was coached by husband-wife team Béla and Márta Károlyi - a Hungarian/Romanian duo who went on to train a series of gold medal winning gymnasts in The States following Nadia's success. This may seem like a wonderful story about hard work and triumph, but one might want to stop and consider how gruelling the task of training for the biggest sporting event in the world might be....

Rio 2016 (2013) is a documentary directed by Bianca Rotaru that focuses on the trials and tribulations of two young gymnasts, Teodora and Andreea as they fight for a spot on the Romanian National Team heading for the Rio Olympics. Throughout the film preview, the intimidating voice of a woman is heard, perhaps their coach, as she uses reverse psychology to push her pupils to perform in all excellence, debasing them along the way. 

Stills from Rio 2016.

My mother once told me that she remembered reading about how Nadia was not permitted to eat any cake on her birthday. As a little girl, I remember being was disgusted and shocked, thinking "no cake at all, really?" At the time, I was a young gymnast at a quiet local club in suburban Melbourne. I had an severe Russian coach named Katya who persisted to ask me the impossible question: "are you a scared little rabbit?" because I couldn't do the vault. She had no fault in her methods, but she did choose the wrong person to pursue - I was not interested in training for the Olympics. I was disinterested in sports, wanting rather to socialise with the other girls about Leonardo Dicaprio and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. However, I do remember a feeling a sense of envy when I watched the older girls perform sequential somersaults on the beams. Katya probably whipped them into shape.

So what is the point of this story...? Documentaries are a window to real life experiences, they are the closest interpretations of reality within the cinema realm. Rio 2016 is a documentary with a fresh perspective that not only incorporates the psychology of the game-centred narrative (a typical screenwriting template), but offers a unique examination of a culture of people that are incredibly hard on themselves, especially when passion prevails above all else.

See trailer here.

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