HOOP DREAMS goes to the mat in this intimate, coming-of-age documentary about four members of a high-school wrestling team at Huntsville’s J.O. Johnson High School, a longstanding entry on Alabama’s list of failing schools.
Coached by teacher Chris Scribner, teammates Jailen, Jamario, Teague, and Jaquan each face challenges far beyond a shot at the State Championship: splintered family lives, drug use, teenage pregnancy, mental health struggles, and run-ins with the law threaten to derail their success on the mat and lock any doors that could otherwise open. Tough-love coach Scribner isn’t off the hook, either; he must come to terms with his own past conflicts while unwittingly wading into the complexities of race, class and privilege in the South.
Director Suzannah Herbert and Co-Director Lauren Belfer captured over 650 hours of footage during the course of the team’s final season to create this closely observed, deeply affecting depiction of growing up disadvantaged in America today.
FIREFLY THEATER & FILMS and EXHIBIT A present "WRESTLE" //
JAILEN YOUNG JAMARIO ROWE JAQUAN RHODES TEAGUE BERRES and CHRIS SCRIBNER //
Music by DAVID WINGO and GRAHAM LEBRON // Associate Editor BLAIR MCCLENDON // Edited by PABLO PROENZA //
Director of Photography SINISA KUKIC // Consulting Producer SAM POLLARD //
Executive Producers MICHELINE LEVINE STEVEN STREIT WALKER DEIBEL CHAD TROUTWINE //
Produced by LAUREN BELFER STEVEN KLEIN SETH GORDON MARY ROHLICH SUZANNAH HERBERT
// Written by LAUREN BELFER SUZANNAH HERBERT PABLO PROENZA //
Co-Directed by LAUREN BELFER //
Directed By SUZANNAH HERBERT
Festivals & Awards
SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
included in the SF Launch Program
OXFORD FILM FESTIVAL
Best Documentary Feature
The Alice Guy-Blaché Award for Emerging Female Filmmaker
TRAVERSE CITY FILM FESTIVAL
SIDEWALK FILM FESTIVAL
awarded Best Alabama Film and Jailen Young was awarded the Spirit of Sidewalk
BALTIMORE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
WOODSTOCK FILM FESTIVAL
special Jury mention for Best Documentary Editing, Pablo Proenza
NEW ORLEANS FILM FESTIVAL
HOT SPRINGS FILM FESTIVAL
awarded Best Sports Documentary and the Hot Springs Audience Award
MILWAUKEE FILM FESTIVAL
INDIE MEMPHIS FILM FESTIVAL
awarded the Ron Tibbet Award of Excellence in Filmmakers and
the Documentary Features Audience Award
DENVER FILM FESTIVAL
awarded the Maysles Brothers Documentary Award
EAST LANSING FILM FESTIVAL
BAHAMAS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
awarded Best Documentary Film
NEWS AND REVIEWS
'Wrestle': Film Review
OSCILLOSCOPE Picks Up Sports Doc 'Wrestle'
HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Oscilloscope’s Dan Berger says, “There’s a reason Wrestle keeps collecting audience awards at film festivals. At a challenging time in our society in so many ways, Suzannah and Lauren’s film, and their subjects, tackle major issues in an intimate way and it never feels defeatist.”
OSCILLOSCOPE Doubles Down On Docus With ‘Wrestle’
DEADLINE: Oscilloscope Laboratories, the production and distribution company founded by Adam Yauch of Beastie Boys, has picked up the North American rights to a pair of documentaries: Wrestle, the Suzannah Herbert- and Lauren Belfer-directed film about high school wrestlers.
WRESTLE takes home the Maysles Brothers Doc Award
WRESTLE wins TWO awards at Indie Memphis
21 things to do at the 21st Indie Memphis
"Directed by Memphis' own Suzannah Herbert, "Wrestle" — which embeds the viewer with a quartet of Hunstville, Alabama, high-school wrestlers — is a documentary about sports, youth and identity that deserves to be mentioned alongside "Hoop Dreams." (If the 2011 Memphis football film "Undefeated" can win the Best Documentary Oscar, why not "Wrestle"?) Herbert will attend."
Indie Memphis Film Festival raises a 'Rukus'
"An outstanding documentary, "Wrestle" essentially embeds viewers with the wrestling team at a failing Huntsville, Alabama, high school. We'd say the film offers a fly-on-the-wall perspective, except a fly likely wouldn't be able to sculpt 650 hours of footage into a gripping 96 minutes of compassionate portraiture that suggests not only the much-acclaimed "Minding the Gap" but the current Starz high-school documentary series, "America To Me," from Steve "Hoop Dreams" James."
WRESTLE wins TWO awards at Hot Springs Doc
WRESTLE takes home Best Sports Feature and the Hot Springs Audience Award
"This documentary's intimate and personal cinematography and elegant editing impressed us and revealed a true mastery of craft. Through a contained story, the directors illuminated global truths and displayed tremendous patience, allowing the viewer to lean in and engage with both flawed and remarkable people at once. This film tells the story of Alabama teenagers attempting to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles t
PABLO PROENZA receives a Special Jury Mention
Pablo Proenza receives a Special Jury Mention for Best Documentary Film Editing at the Woodstock Film Festival
Under the Lights awards grant to wrestling team
"Today the Under the Lights Foundation awarded it’s first ever grant to the Mae Jemison High School wrestling team. A few weeks ago, some board members and I went to see the documentary “Wrestle” at the Sidewalk Film Festival. ...I want to give a special thanks to the directors behind the documentary “Wrestle” – Suzannah Herbert and Lauren Belfer. Your film inspired me and the board of the foundation to reach out and award this first grant to the wrestling program."
SIDEWALK FILM FESTIVAL RECAP
"Not to play favorites but Wrestle was one of my favorite films of the weekend. Although it’s a documentary, it’s framed in a way that builds a great narrative....I found myself rooting for these kids and begging for a happy ending. Herbert and Belfer are clearly talented and this documentary should be high on your list of films to watch for 2018."
WRESTLE wins BEST ALABAMA FILM @ Sidewalk FF
JAILEN YOUNG awarded the SPIRIT OF SIDEWALK
FILMMAKER CLOSE UP: WRESTLE
"It’s important to understand the South and its people and struggles because I think it’s a reflection of the greater American condition and vast amount of work we all have to do on the road and fight towards equality and freedom."
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VARIETY Film Review: Wrestle
"An engrossing docu..." "in the mode of Hoop Dreams and Friday Night Lights." "Despite being a warts-and-all portrait, Herbert and Belfer’s film is suffused with an unsentimental empathy for primarily African-American subjects who immediately transcend any 'thug' stereotype."
REELY DOPE Film Review: Wrestle
"In its sobering conclusions, Wrestle has us question how much we undervalue poor children’s lives, circumstances and education in this country... Belfer, Herbert & co. were able to hone in on their slices of life without painting too broad a brush or making too simple a point for a complex and nuanced situation. It’s a feat that few filmmakers can achieve with honesty... It’s clear that Belfer, Herbert and their team are among those who can with true efficacy and artistry."
FILMMAKER MAGAZINE:SFFILM Announces Launch PrograM
SFFILM announces the five titles that will comprise its 2018 Launch Program, an initiative intending to highlight for the industry a select group of world-premiering films drawn from different sections of the San Francisco International Film Festival.