New documentary Senna shows just how exciting the world of Formula One can be
As Austin waits patiently for the now-delayed debut of Formula One racing at the Circuit of the Americas, excitement continues to build. With events like the recent F1 commercial filming by Red Bull on Congress Avenue drawing crowds despite the heat, the level of enthusiasm for the sport has nowhere to go but up. Giving the locals a taste of what's to come is a new film opening at Violet Crown on August 26th.
Senna (which won a World Cinema Audience Award at Sundance) is a new documentary from filmmaker Asif Kapadia (The Warrior) chronicling the life of racer Ayrton Senna. The Brazilian Formula One driver rose to stardom in the mid-80s and early-90s, winning three championships and several Grand Prix. His death during the San Marino Grand Prix competition in 1994 was viewed as a national tragedy in Brazil, where three days of mourning were observed in his honor.
In the film, Senna's rivalry with former McLaren teammate Alain Prost is highlighted, as is the drama behind the perceived preferential treatment the French Prost received from FIA president Jean-Marie Balestre, also a Frenchman. It's comprised solely of stock footage; from recorded team meetings to in-car cameras on race days, the filmmakers were given unprecedented access to archival footage.
In an interview with Den of Geek!, Kapadia talks about being a fan of Formula One as well as a dramatic director, one who found plenty of material in Senna and the sport. "[W[hat's going on off the track is great," he says. "And then it makes the race much more interesting."
Formula One is not a frequently watched sport in the US, so many viewers likely won't know much about Senna going in. Coming out, however, audiences should have a greater appreciation for the complexity and potential star-making power of the sport. Bitter rivalries, behind-the-scenes politics and patriotism meet in the Formula One world to create the kinds of stories told in Senna.
The greatest documentaries will present a subject to audiences in a way those even with no inherent interest will find fascinating. By all accounts, Senna is exactly that kind of film. Much like the way The King of Kong contained a story set in the videogame world—one that had a specific pre-built-in audience, and won over mass audiences with nail-biting drama—come next weekend, there should be even more Formula One fans in Austin. Race day may be over a year away, but with Senna arriving next week, Austinites will receive an early taste of what's to come.
Tickets for Senna at Violet Crown Cinemas are on sale now.