Ma Bar

Ma Bar


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

When it comes to finding ‘alternative’ takes on sporting documentaries, Finlay Pretsell and Adrian McDowall are hard to beat as a directorial pairing. Last year, they brought their inventive portrait of Olympic cyclist Craig MacLean to the festival. This year they’ve turned their attention to the even more marginal sport of powerlifting – but, boy, have they found a great subject.

Bill MacFadyen is 73, an age more associated with tartan slippers and a potter round the allotment, than with hefting huge amounts of weight into the year. Yet Bill has a strength to beat the young pretenders to his Masters IV World Championship throne.

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“Losing,” he says. “I don’t tolerate.” Bill is deadly serious about maintaining his winning ways and with going on to break fresh records. McDowall and Pretsell paint his portrait, leavening his seriousness, with some great shots of he and other lifters shifting those bars.

While not quite as structurally unusual as Standing Start this is nevertheless an excellent documentary, putting you so close to the action you can almost feel the sweat and taste the chalk dust. Matthew Aldworth - whose score lifted Standing Start - again provides an excellent musical underpinning for the action.

McDowall is moving on to direct an episode of Taggart soon, it’s to be hoped this won’t bring an end to the creatively excellent relationship with Pretsell. Either way, I’m certain this won’t be the last we see of either of them – and a good thing that is, too.

Reviewed on: 25 Jun 2008
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What drives a 73-year-old powerlifting champion?

Director: Adrian McDowall, Finlay Pretsell

Starring: Bill McFadyen

Year: 2008

Runtime: 12 minutes

Country: UK

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Standing Start