- Written by webmin
Formula 1 fans were apprehensive a few years ago when plans for a biopic about World Champion Ayrton Senna was announced – it’s been a long time since the last great racing film, and visions of Stallone’s Driven danced in our heads. Senna Director Asif Kapadia and screenwriter and executive producer Manish Pandey took a different direction, however, and spent years negotiating with the F1 bureaucracy and Ayrton Senna’s family, ultimately securing the rights to essentially all the archival footage available, more than 15,000 hours of film, which they then spent further years combing through and editing.
We’d heard that the result, released elsewhere in the world last fall and in a few U.S. art houses, was good, but the filmmakers had no plans for wider U.S. distribution: “We were told that no one in the U.S. knew who Ayrton Senna was, that there was no interest in Formula One, that we should forget about releasing the film here,” said Kapadia (if you’re among those who don’t know/don’t care, watch this, then get back to me), but they brought the film to the Sundance festival in January. There, it took the festival by surprise, winning the Audience Award and amazing critics including L.A. Times’ influential Kenneth Turan, who wrote that “Sometimes a documentary will unexpectedly reach out and grab you by the throat, not giving you a second to breathe.”
After that reception, Kapadia quickly arranged to bring the film to last week’s South by Southwest festival in Austin, a natural choice given the ongoing construction of an F1 track outside town for the 2012 Grand Prix season. The film was received even better there, selling out faster than any other film in SXSW history. That sealed the deal for Kapadia, and he announced he would seek a June release for the film in the United States.
Distribution of the movie is still up in the air, but the trailer alone is enough to make me want to start camping out at the theater just in case. I can’t believe we haven’t seen him race for almost 16 years. There will never be another.