Reviews and interviews


Pulling John

Documentary Feature, Emerging Visions
D: Vassiliki Khonsari, Sevan Matossian

In the world of professional arm wrestling, American John Brzenk is Michael Jordan, King Kong, and Mount Everest rolled into one. Twenty-five years the world's champion, he's an almost mythical source of fear and wonder to the generation of "pullers" coming up in his shadow. Khonsari and Matossian follow two of those pullers as they battle each other, themselves, and the legend of the indomitable Brzenk always lingering somewhere off in the distance. Travis Bagent and Alexey Voevoda are characters straight out of central casting – one a loudmouthed country boy from West Virginia with the self-promotional subtlety of a professional wrestler, the other a philosophical Russian who trains in dingy basements and quotes the Taoists. Along with Brzenk, they're partners in a fascinating dance of shifting audience loyalty that climaxes with an inevitable – but no less exciting for being inevitable – three-way standoff.

Friday, March 20, 10pm, Alamo South Lamar

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Pulling John, SXSW 2009

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