Directed by Laura McGann, Revolutions is a documentary about women’s roller derby in Ireland. The documentary follows the progress of the Firebirds, from Cork and DRG, from Dublin as they both advance from being the first two roller derby teams in Ireland to being among the top 10 in the world. The teams are observed over 3 years as they put Ireland on the roller derby map while facing their own personal struggles during the ugliest years of the recession.
Although documentaries are not generally my cup of tea, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. McGann’s filming technique engages you from the start. You become engrossed in the sportsmanship and the competitiveness of these women who are looking for a way to vent and not let their social problems take over. The people in the documentary are so determined and committed to their sport that it is sometimes hard to remember you are not watching an edited, scripted film. It is impressive to witness the story of these women and their determination. The world of sports is challenging at the best of times and even more so during the most recent financial struggle that Ireland has gone through. Revolutions gives you a real insight into what it means to dedicate your life to a sport, without the gloss and editing of a fictional story, while remaining just as complex and captivating as a well planned work of fiction. The characters are raw. Their stories are real and relatable as they face unemployment, career pressures and rivalries inside and outside the team.
Besides being a great account of how the recession hit Ireland and the rest of the world, Revolutions is first and foremost a story about the Irish community, about the competitive attitude and the commitment that would hold such a small thing as a roller derby team together through challenging times and make it a great source of comfort and support for those involved. You are there with the characters as they have problems with the team and with their lives and as the pick up the pieces and reinvent themselves, refusing to let their issues get the best of them. I didn’t know what to expect when I went to the screening, but I was pleasantly surprised by a story that managed to be entertaining, engaging and educational. I’m even considering looking this roller derby thing up. I recommend watching it even if you’re not particularly into sports or documentaries. Besides watching a motivational true story,you will also enjoy some essential Irish elements: a great sense of community, the ability to make fun of life’s difficulties and, of course, the ol’ Cork-Dublin feud.