SXSW 2017: Win By Fall
Win By Fall is a sweet and sincere sports documentary about wrestling. What sets it apart from most sports documentaries is we follow 4 young girls, most no older than 12 years of age. Tough as nails and full of heart, we track Debby, Janny, Lisa and Michelle’s progress as they leave home in Berlin (a hard decision in itself) and attend a boarding school where they receive education as well as training for their sport.
The ultimate goal for these young women is to achieve victory at the German Championships as well as the European Championships, but the journey will not be easy. Making weight, being homesick, self doubt and just being a young person in a big world all play a factor in this trek to greatness. The kids are pushed to their limits, fighting through tears and injuries and we as an audience completely give a damn about their well being.
In victory and defeat the film never losses sight with the most important fact of all: they are just kids. Often we see then singing, hanging out with family while on vacation, slapping each other playfully, sitting dangerously close to boys and leaning the proper way to say 'ho' and 'whore'. They are beyond precious, and we root for them wholeheartedly by the film's end. Another special thing the film gets right is the depiction of the coaches. They are often seen yelling from the sidelines with frustration and grit trying their best to get the girls to the next level, but they are also cool calm and collected once they have a sit down with each young girl mentioned beofer. In these 'progress report style’ two on one interviews their tough love and verbal tongue lashing goes out the window. They never once raise their voices and give their best advice to these kids and we see the coaches for who they really are. True mentors and not the cliched idiots trying to achieve lost victory vicariously through children.
Win By Fall comes out of Germany, but its message translates universally. A total winner, I pray it gets picked up so you can see how special this documentary and these young ladies truly are.