Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Doglegs (2015) Fantastic Fest 2015

Doglegs (2015) - Official Trailer from Heath Cozens on Vimeo.
This is the only place we can fight and win...I will fight in this ring as long as I am alive L'amant -handicapped wrestler

After 20 years in the "Sambo" Shintaro Yano prepares to retire from wrestling. The thing is Shintaro is handicapped, as are all of the Dogleg fighters.

This is the story of Doglegs wrestling. Begun when Shintaro and a friend fought over the affections of a girl, things continued on as more and more people decided that they too would want to take a try at fighting in the squared circle. The film shows us several of the wrestlers in and out of the ring

Bound to offend some who think that handicapped people should just sit down and take care of themselves, this is in fact a glorious celebration of life. Just because Shintaro and the others have handicaps is clearly no reason that they can't fight each other. Why can't they practice the sport that they love?

As the post fight comment quoted above makes clear, being able to fight and win, or at least have a shot at coming out on top is what Doglegs is all about. They can not get by in the normal world without help, or  without great difficulty. Within the ring they have a shot at doing something on their own and that's all they are asking for.

While I love the film and how the people in it are fighting  for themselves and their own self respect I am also emotionally all over the place about it. This is one of the most emotionally and mentally exhausting films I've ever seen. There is no doubt  that part of me fears for the fighters and their situations, but another part of me cheers them on. Director Heath Cozens raises all sorts of issues, quality of life, emotional needs and moral issues as he forces the audience to really and truly confront what it is to be handicapped and to be a caregiver. Watching the film you really understand what its like to love a man who is confined to a wheelchair and have a young son. Or to have a mental handicap that makes you looked down upon even in the handicapped community.

When the film ended I felt beaten up (in a good way). I had been moved to tears emotionally and intellectually moved to really think about things which I had only given a kind of intellectual lip service to.

Easily one of the most moving and challenging films of the year. A must see.

The film plays at Fantastic Fest September 26 and October 1. For more information and tickets go here.

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