The Crash Reel
Academy Award–nominated documentarian Lucy Walker (Waste Land) turns her attention to the world of extreme sports with this deeply moving portrait of champion snowboarder Kevin Pearce as he struggles to get back on the slopes following a near-fatal accident.
In late 2009, Kevin was preparing for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics with dreams of unseating his rival Shaun White, when a horrifying fall during a practice run resulted in a debilitating brain injury that placed him in a temporary coma and seriously impaired both his speech and mobility. Struggling to regain even the most basic functions, Kevin is determined to return to the sport he loves, even as his doctors insist that even the slightest injury to the head may be enough to kill him.
Walker was granted intimate access to Kevin and his family throughout the athlete’s recovery, and their painful journey constitutes the emotional core of the film. Yet, far more than a simple comeback narrative, The Crash Reel raises larger ethical issues surrounding the extreme-sports industry, as Walker parallels Kevin’s story with those of other athletes whose lives have been irrevocably changed or tragically lost in pursuit of those ultimate highs, including the late Canadian world-champion skier Sarah Burke. As the industry’s profits continue to rise in direct proportion to the increasing dangers to which it exposes athletes, Walker implicitly asks: When there are no limits to the heights competitors can reach, how far should they go? And how far should they be allowed to go?
Employing a wealth of exhilarating snowboarding footage to capture both the adrenaline rushing thrill and the lifeendangering risks of the sport, Walker helps us comprehend Kevin’s willingness to take his life into his own hands once again while asking serious and fundamental questions about the entire culture of high-risk sports. Moving, challenging, and refusing to offer easy answers, The Crash Reel should be required viewing for both athletes and anyone who has ever marvelled at their incredible feats.
"Walker pulls off a spectacular feat ... balancing the needs of extreme sports vid and cautionary tale." - Rob Nelson, Variety
"In its picture of the family constellation lies all of the film's strength, all testimony to its ambition, its capacity to fascinate with a revelation, an unexpected digression from the drama's main focus." - Dorothy Rabinowitz, Wall Street Journal
"Walker captures a seesaw exhilaration between the thrill of pushing one's limits and the pain of dreams cut short." - Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
"Lucy Walker has assembled one of the great sporting docs—partly because its scope extends beyond the slopes." - Trevor Johnston, Time Out
Director: Lucy Walker
Featuring: Kevin Pearce, Shaun White, Mason Aguirre
Runtime: 100 minutes
Distributor: Phase 4 Films
ON NR /
BC NR /
AB NR /
SK NR /
MB NR /
QC NR /
This film has no active screening dates.