Todd Hickey and Kirk Ledger’s latter-day venture into direct cinema, “Takedowns and Falls,” documents the 2006-2007 season of the Central Dauphin Rams, a high-school wrestling team in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania hoping for a state championship. The filmmakers say the lineage of inspiration for their film includes “Vision Quest,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Hoop Dreams” and “Spellbound.” Their work holds interest even if it never attains the estimable heights of its documentary forebears: aficionados of the sport are likely to get more from the story than the average viewer. The earnestness of the students, their unspoiled hope, may be the most memorable element. Footage of landscapes and matches shot on 35mm film (along with digital video) is a strength rare in contemporary documentary. 122m. (Ray Pride)
“Takedowns and Falls” opens Friday at Facets. Hickey will appear at Friday-Saturday screenings as well as Sunday at 1:30pm and 4pm. A trailer is embedded below.
Ray Pride is Newcity film critic and a contributing editor of Filmmaker magazine. He is also a photographer: his history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images is forthcoming. Previews on Twitter (twitter.com/chighostsigns) as well as daily photography on Instagram: instagram.com/raypride. Twitter: twitter.com/RayPride. (Photo: Jorge Colombo.)