We all love a good MMA documentary, from “Driven” starring Jens Pulver to “The Striking Truth” with Georges St. Pierre and David Loiseau. For those looking for a sign that MMA is crossing over to the mainstream, the New York Times recently reported that of the 1,792 feature films submitted to the 2011 edition of the prestigious SXSW Film Festival in Austin, the largest single category of films represented were about combat sports. One of those films, “Fightville” directed by Pepper & Bones, will premiere in the documentary competition at the fest on March 12, 2011.
The popularity of the subject matter doesn’t surprise the film’s co-director Michael Tucker, who spoke in a press-release sent out today. “When we first started filming “Fightville” we knew very little about MMA, but after 18 months of filming we really came to love the culture of the fight world. Fighting is the stuff that movie legends are made of–who hasn’t wanted to be Rocky or Bruce Lee? MMA is the evolution of that legacy.”
The film focuses on the world of an up-and-coming feeder promotion called USA-MMA run by Gil Guillory in Lafayette, Louisiana–a place where fighting, for many, is as much ritual as it is sport. In “Fightville”, life is a contest and the area around Lafayette, which includes a neighborhood that is the namesake of the film, has no shortage of fighters. Many of them train with veteran UFC fighter Tim Credeur at his Gladiators Academy, where more than just making champions, he seeks to “build better men”. One of those fighters, Dustin Poirier, quickly became the focus of the film, after a series of dramatic victories. “The first time I saw Dustin fight, I was immediately taken with him. You could just tell that the kid was going places,” says Tucker.
The creative duo behind the movie, Pepper & Bones, real names Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker, are best known for their epic chronicle of the Iraq War that began with the release of the acclaimed “Gunner Palace” in 2004 by Palm Pictures. Their second film, “The Prisoner”, was released by Red Envelope/Netflix and went on to be nominated for an Independent Spirit Award in 2007. Later that year they embarked to Afghanistan where they filmed “Bulletproof Salesman”. In 2009, their final war film, “How to fold a flag”, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. “Fightville” will mark their fourth appearance at SXSW and their first time working on something comparatively lighter than the subjects covered in their previous work. “Fightville” will world premiere on Saturday March 12th at 4:30pm in the Vimeo Theater at the Austin Convention Center.