Live From SXSW's Screening Room
GIRL WRESTLERD: Diane Zander.
Documentary Feature Competition, World Premiere Tara O'Neal meets her hero, Olympic gold medalist Brandon Slay. He happily signs her T-shirt. But then he says he "doesn't believe" boys and girls should wrestle each other past high school. "OK, so I don't look up to him as much as I used to," she shrugs. Age 12 when this insightful doc began filming, Tara just wants to practice, compete, and push herself to the limit. But the paucity of female freestyle wrestlers has her stymied. Zander's camera follows Tara from club practice to a national championship, encountering sexism, pushy parents, and a preposterous state law that threatens to bench her permanently. Zander captures the nail-biting thrill of competition while speaking volumes about gender and sport, as well as the way parents invest their hopes in young athletes. The perspective is so intimate that Tara comes through as a down-to-earth kid who likes hanging out at the mall, has safety pins on her backpack, and became an unlikely but willing feminist exemplar. (CC, 3/15, 4pm)
-- Marrit Ingman