Roughly 80% of my Netflix queue is documentaries. It’s my jam as far as film-making goes; I love movies that introduce me to a person or subculture that I’d otherwise never meet or hear of. And since I’m an unapologetic fencing evangelist, I’m even more excited about the spate of fencing documentaries that are in production or in theatres. I’ve got three American documentaries for you today:
Fencing for the Edge is a documentary by American women’s epeeist Holly Buechel about the highs and lows of competitive high school fencing teams in New Jersey. The popularity of high school fencing has been identified as one of the reasons that New Jersey is one of the most fencing-dense areas of the country. The film will also feature Fencing In The Schools and Tim Morehouse’s quest to introduce fencing to physical education classes all over the country. Just a few days ago, Holly released a new trailer focusing on the Columbia High School team:
Because I coached a high school team this season (three cheers for Beaver Country Day School! Our fencers took home medals in all three weapons at the State Championships), the plot arc here is one that I know I’m going to be able to relate to, and the proliferation of successful fencing clubs in New Jersey is, I think, proof that high school leagues are a key to the continued growth of our sport.
Shooting is completed and Buechel is currently in the midst of another round of fundraising to pay for the film’s editing. As an extension of this fundraiser, a rough cut of the film will be shown in a special screening for the fencing community at Summer Nationals 2015 in San Jose. Holly will be renting a theatre near the venue for a one-night-only event in the middle of SN week. I’d plan on buying my tickets ahead of time as I anticipate a lot of interest.
Southern Fried Fencing features the incomparable Andy Shaw and his museum of fencing memorabilia. I’ve often said that fencing is a sport full of big personalities and it’s obvious just from the trailer that Andy goes above and beyond in that department. It’s the story of the Fairfield Avenue School of Fencing in the most unlikely of fencing hotspots, Shreveport, Louisiana, and his unmatched collection of artifacts from the history of sport fencing. If you can’t make it to Louisiana for an in-person visit, this film promises to be the next best thing.
Southern Fried Fencing is already completed and making the rounds on the festival circuit. It will also be for one week in Louisiana starting April 24th at a showing for fencing families and supporters of the project. Once that’s done, it may be made available for private screenings at fencing clubs and tournaments to raise awareness for Andy’s museum foundation, so that the collection can be preserved beyond his life.
Winning is Luther Clement’s film about the sabre programs at the Peter Westbrook Foundation in New York City. PWF has produced some of the USA’s finest athletes for more than a decade, including Keeth and Erinn Smart, Akhi Spencer-El, and Olympian and current national team member Ibtihaj Muhammad. The film will cover the stories of four generations of athletes who started at the bottom and and worked (or are working) their way up to compete at the elite level. Here’s the trailer: