Coal has long gone from Coalville. What's left of this once thriving Leicestershire village are young men like Stevie, who dream of glory in a now economically crippled community.
Once a hardened criminal, Stevie Gold finds redemption and fame in bare knuckle boxing, yet when he breaks his hand, loses the love of his life, and is challenged to a rematch against a far more experienced boxer, he has only his family and himself to lead him to victory.
Interview with Writer/Director Ross Bolidai
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Recently evident in the Brexit, Great Britain is a land divided. On the one hand you have the wealthy South, where house prices are astronomical and the rat race supersonic and in contrast you have the North, in places still reeling from the effects of de-industrialisation and collapse of the coal industry generations ago. A clear class separation still exists and opportunities and sensibilities are certainly different.
As a film-maker living on the edge of London’s rapidly gentrifying financial district, I wanted to spend time in a declining industrial town to explore the notions of status, masculinity and aspiration of men like me in an area that isn’t rife with opportunity.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film? We’re not trying to solve a humanitarian problem or a great mystery, and as much as I’d hate to disappoint this film isn’t really about bare knuckle boxing either. It’s a universal story about a lost boy finding his way, an insight into another way of life, a way to connect with people with whom you ordinarily wouldn’t.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
The film is a delicate and intimate exploration of masculinity, status, trust and family. It’s a hybrid of observation and intervention - I felt that it was important to feature my presence in the film in order to convey a sense of authenticity as Stevie shows me around his world. At other times where things became more intimate between Stevie and his surroundings I’d would take a step back in order to let actuality guide the scene.
There are moments throughout the film that are as universal as can be - angst towards a parent, the frustration of coming to terms of an injury and the breakup of a relationship with your high school sweetheart, yet at other times we are thrown into a completely surreal world where men fight it out in a Pub. It certainly isn’t lacking contrast!
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production? The beauty of working within documentary is that although you always have a shopping list of things you’d like to get, a large part of the film is written in the edit. I thoroughly enjoy making films about flawed male characters, characters detestable in some way who we gradually learn to understand, forgive, trust, respect and maybe even adore - hopefully in that order.
This universal understanding between people from entirely different backgrounds is what makes documentary and indeed the world so beautiful - I’ll be smiling if the audience go through the same contrast of emotions when they watch the film.
What type of feedback have you received so far? I was a bit nervous about Stevie’s likability throughout the film. After a year of crafting the film, I was convinced that he was likeable as can be, yet it’s often difficult to detach from those emotions in order to balance a character’s development and likability on screen.
For this reason working with an Editor is imperative for me, you really do need someone without an emotional attachment to your character or footage to see the wood from the trees and fortunately my editor Meredith was an invaluable asset during the process.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view? The preview screening loved him but we’re to have our World Premiere at MDFF in two weeks so time will tell!
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message? We are hoping to expand the reach of the film by getting more festival directors on board to exhibit it, journalists to write about it and distributors to help us get it on as many screens as possible.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have? I’d like the audience to connect and empathise, be gripped and entertained, to gain an understanding into another way of life that can hopefully resonate within themselves.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now? I’m currently developing my first TV hour for Channel 4 here in the UK for 2017, while also developing a few short docs of my own. Our wonderful editor Meredith Mantik has just finished cutting a fiction for Sky in the UK and will be moving to LA to edit sunnier rushes in August.
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Length: 31 minutes
Director, Producer & Writer: Ross Bolidai
About the writer, director and producer: Ross Bolidai is an Royal Television Society award winning documentary director from London. He has a Masters in Directing from the National Film and Television School and has been making short films for the last ten years. www.rossbolidai.com
Made in association with: National Film and Television School
Release date: World Premiere: Melbourne Documentary Film Festival on Saturday 9th July 2016
Where can I watch it? Melbourne Documentary Film Festival on Saturday 9th July 2016, 9.30pm at the Howler Art Space