Film tracks jumpers’ Olympic struggle
Documenting heartbreak became an annual bit for Cara Perlman.
The New York-based filmmaker followed the members of Women’s Ski Jumping USA from the spring of 2006 through the fall of 2009, portraying the endless hours of hard work, worldwide travel and continual roadblocks preventing admission into the Olympic Winter Games.
Tomorrow evening, Perlman’s documentary, "110%" is scheduled to be shown as a free viewing at the Jim Santy Auditorium at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. It is the only time the film will be shown to, as Perlman calls it, "the home town crowd." There will be a Q & A session following the one-hour film.
How Perlman came to find herself bouncing like a pinball all over the world with a group of teenagers and young adults is a story in itself.
In 2003, a friend introduced her to the sport of ski jumping and Perlman made a quick trip to Lake Placid, N.Y., to do a short film. It was later picked up by ESPN.
Later on, when she saw that women’s ski jumping was not included in the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy, Perlman became intrigued.
Once she was allowed into the inner circle, Perlman was exposed to the everyday emotion of professional athletes.
"It’s my specialty in a way," said Perlman of making connections with the athletes. "I like to create that intimacy. That’s a big deal to me. That’s important."
While Perlman didn’t spend every day with the athletes, she bounced back and forth between Park City and her home in New York.
"It was like a pickup for me," she said. "I would go out to Park City a few times a year; sometimes I wouldn’t know when. Something would happen and I would just jump on a plane. It was chaotic."
Taking on the role as the teller of an unjust story was at times tricky, according to Perlman. She had to try and remain as objective as possible.
"I was in the mix with them," she said. "I wasn’t always a fly on the wall. I became a particular person. I wasn’t an anonymous person."
Said Women’s Ski Jumping USA President Deedee Corradini, "Cara certainly became very involved in the cause and very close to the athletes. The more she got into it, the more she wanted to tell the story."
Perlman often shot footage on her own. When following the team internationally, she would regularly hire a crew.
As for the style of the film, Perlman said, "The movie is a timeline. It is pretty straightforward in that sense. It is storytelling. It’s not a promotional film. It’s the unfolding of a team story over that three-and-a-half-year period.
"I tried to keep the focus on them."
Perlman said the core of the film is how the group of women worked as a team for a common goal. It wasn’t about one particular athlete or another and that, she said, is what makes the film special.
"How they untangled as a small group, always training together, working on becoming elite athletes, thrown into this irrational hurdle," she said. "I wanted to invoke that these people functioned as a team."
Corradini, who acts as one of the narrators of the film, said the piece is "a human story."
Ironically, women’s ski jumping was finally allowed to participate in the Olympic Winter Games and will debut in 2014 in Sochi, Russia. The announcement came in early April 2011 nearly 18 months after she stopped following the team.
Perlman said it would have been nice to include the team’s reaction, but is happy the film portrayed the struggle.
"I was expecting it," she said of the announcement. "I knew the chances were good this time. I felt extremely happy for them. How could I not? It’s such a funky political situation. It’s an odd debut. But I think it never would have happened had they never (fought for equality)."
Perlman will be flying out for the debut tomorrow and said she is ecstatic to be able to show the film in Park City.
"There’s just no place like home, right?" she said.
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