This past Saturday evening post coaching and training Team PAD had the pleasure of pre-screening the documentary, American Weightlifting by Greg Everett of Catalyst Athletics. Greg literally did everything himself, he wrote, directed, filmed, edited, produced, even scored the film using no outside funding and an extremely small budget which ironically is very much like Weightlifting in America.
From the start, this documentary does a great job of painting the picture of Weightlifting in this country. You get a great idea of how hard it is for anyone in weightlifting to succeed as a coach, athlete, team, gym, or program/club. Throughout the film, you will hear many stories from the great coaches, athletes some old timers, and some who haven't fully left their mark on the world of weightlifting just yet.
You will get a great idea of just how much sacrifice it takes to keep your head above water in this sport. One quote that I loved from the film was "In those countries, weightlifting is a meal ticket. We give up what they gain. In other words, we give up a good job, a good education to be a weightlifter, where they can get that by being a weightlifter." - Jim Schmitz
Anyone who has passion for a sport or anything in general can appreciate this film. You will see many qualities of what happens when you follow your passion. We all know success is not a linear path and their may only be brief moments of success but you do what you do because you love it and nothing more. Aimee Everett said it best "You have to be able to get shut down everyday and still remember why you have a love affair with the platform and the bar."
I really only have a few gripes with the film.
Most of these are most likely due to little or no budget. Something I would have liked to see is the top lifters in the country represented in this documentary. The fact that most or all of the people interviewed were local to Greg is somewhat disappointing. It would've been nice to see the biggest names in the country represented in the film. At least interview the athletes that went to the most recent Olympics and get their perspective on the sport and their stories. I'm not asking to see footage of international lifters which could be understandably hard to get but the title is American Weightlifting and the film does not fully represent American Weightlifting.
Anyone in the sport knows that at times it can be dark, depressing even. The film does a great job of portraying this but I think parts were down right depressing. What is conveyed is the problem with weightlifting but what was not conveyed is a solution or positive message about the sport. What is presented is love it or get out. Which to an outsider could be uninviting. In such a small struggling sport why would we push anyone away?
A bit more could have been done to show the good things that weightlifting brings.
Did I enjoy the film? Yes. Would I recommend you to purchase the film? Yes but only if you can appreciate what goes into the sport of weightlifting and filmmaking.
Don't let me make a decision for you for I am only a critic in this matter. We can watch the same film and see two different things.
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