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Pretty Brutal

Directed by Monica De Alwis

Genre: Documentary
Time: 62 minutes
Language: English
Country: New Zealand

US Premiere

Synopsis Meet the women of the Pirate City Rollers, the first roller derby league in New Zealand. This smashmouth group of femme fatales are fighting together (and amongst each other) to garner support for their starter league. Everything’s an argument: the struggle for sponsorships, the “right kind” of publicity, the internal politics, even the physical toll of a brutal sport.

After following the group through their inaugural season, filmmaker Monica Dealwis edits her footage a masterpiece of storytelling. What might have been a generic league profile quickly shifts into a character study as it becomes clear that one dynamic league founder, fraught with personal insecurity and passive-aggressive tendencies, has the capability to make or break the entire league.

It’s a sport where lipstick, fishnets, and compound fractures are equally commonplace. Where women use feminine allure to sell a stereotypically unfeminine activity. Where cattiness and competition abound both on the rink and off. And where a power struggle gets out of control when it goes to a mascara-addled head.

This film contains strong language.

Synopsis by Kate and Mike Bernola

This film will be preceded by:
First Match (14 minutes, US)

Directed by Olivia Newman

Synopsis: Monique is the first girl on her high school's all boys wrestling team. Though she struggles for acceptance from her teammates, she has a bigger goal: Monique sees wrestling as a way to connect with her father -- a former high school wrestler who is a struggling single dad. (14 minutes, USA)

Monica De Alwis

Director/Producer/Director of Photography/Editor Monica De Alwis is a New Zealand born filmmaker with a Bachelor of Fine Art from Elam, University of Auckland, where she achieved first class honours and majored in intermedia. Exploring documentary in this experimental setting she was awarded the Head of the School’s Prize for Moving Image and Sound. Upon completing her formal studies she exhibited video works in Auckland, was invited to teach at Elam and worked in several creative and research roles on lower-budget film, TV and music video productions. She set up a production company and began work on her first feature length, narrative documentary Pretty Brutal. Monica has become something of a multi-skilled, one-woman band, necessitated by the economic realities and DIY nature of independent filmmaking. Going forward, she will continue to develop her strengths as a Director and Cinematographer, backed with a belief in the importance of documentary as a cultural art form that can engender discussion and action beyond the screen.


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