Upcoming Fencing Movies: IDFA 2014

This is the first in a series of posts about some of the upcoming fencing movies that are in production.

One of the reasons I started this blog was because I felt like there wasn’t enough good fencing-related content on the internet. I read every forum post, went through the archives of blogs that hadn’t been updated in years, watched every awkward, inaccurate eHow instructional video, and it still didn’t feel like enough.

But all that is about to change as we enter a golden age of fencing films! After decades of neglect, our sport is getting some attention from documentary and dramatic filmmakers around the world.   Each one focuses on a different niche in the fencing world; there really isn’t going to be much overlap between them.

Both of the films being featured in this edition are short documentaries, less than 30 minutes, which are being released today at the International Documentary FilmFestival Amsterdam 2014. Showing 300 films over 11 days, it’s the largest documentary film festival in the world.

Malek Means Angel, by Danish filmmaker Lea Hjort Mathiesen, is a short documentary (28:00) about an 11-year-old foilist named Malek and her best friend Yassmine in Tunis, Tunisia.  In the USA fencing is dominated by athletes who come from relatively privileged backgrounds, but the website for Malek Means Angel says that these fencers live and train in a working-class neighborhood.  From the clips that have been released, it also looks like the fencers are competing without electric scoring equipment.  It is a completely different experience than most of us have in this sport; one that I’m glad we’ve been invited to see.  The trailer follows:

Malek Means Angel is being released today, November 21 2014, at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. I’ll post an update when I find out how you can watch it!

The Fencing Champion is a short Danish documentary (27:00) directed by Simon Lereng Wilmont.  It’s about an elite ten-year-old foilist, Ruben, who needs to overcome his seemingly self-imposed anxieties and pressures in order to continue to succeed.    It’s part of a six-film series called Ultra Sport Kids which will feature child athletes from around the world who compete in sports like fencing, ski jumping, BMX biking, sumo wrestling, and gymnastics.

While his coach seems to have a good head on his shoulders, Ruben is competing under a pretty big spotlight for someone his age – seriously, it looks like the finals of the senior World Championships! Despite his talent, the little one responds to one big disappointment with a dramatic meltdown – I’ve seen kids his age do just the same thing at tiny local events (and I’ll be writing about that next week).

That’s all for today: Two short documentaries from Danish directors premiering today at the IDFA 2014 featuring talented young athletes. One of those athletes practices in the open air in the Third World, and the other is competing at the European championships for his age group.  A nice pairing, don’t you think?

Update: Reddit user /u/HhhHhm is in Amsterdam and has posted a review!


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