Raising The Bar Documentary Review Essays

This is about as routine a movie about competitive sport as they make. Berglund is an attractive heroine and her dance training certainly helps during transitions when the action cuts from close-ups of her to long shots of body double Australian Olympic gymnast Larissa Miller, performing the more difficult routines. But the cuts between actual gymnasts and the actors playing gymnasts are inept. To disguise the body doubles, the filmmakers shoot floor routines from directly above, so not only are faces hidden but so is the magic of the spectacular athleticism. For bar routines, the camera focuses on the equipment, mostly catching hands interacting with the bars. It's disorienting to watch the sport this way, analogous to recording a tennis match by only aiming the camera at hands holding racquets.

None of the girls in Raising the Bar look like competitive gymnasts, who are generally compact and muscular, a body type better designed for leaping, tumbling, and twirling through the air. This isn't to say that other body types couldn't be good gymnasts, but this movie is unconvincingly about an "elite" team. Another rub is that although the negative influences of competitive envy are explored here, nowhere does the movie address mental and physical health issues that female gymnasts can face, including overtraining injuries (gymnastics has one of the highest injury rates in girls' sports), bulimia, and body image problems. The pressure to stay small in gymnastics can lead to eating disorders and stunted growth. The good news is that a cyberbully is reprimanded.

Filmmaker Onir’s directorial documentary Raising The Bar is now the official selection at the annual Maryland International Film Festival. The documentary essays awe-inspiring stories of six young individuals with Down syndrome as it follows them and their stories at the World Down Syndrome Congress in Chennai, India. The 118 minutes docu-film has been produced by Onir-Sanjay Suri’s Anticlock Film, Mitu Bhowmick – Festival Director of IFFM and Founder, Mind Blowing Films and Cate Sayers of Emotions 21.

The film has previously won the Best Foreign Documentary Feature at the Hollywood Independent Documentary Awards and a Silver Medal at the Atlanta Film Festival. It premiered to a standing ovation at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne where it was presented by festival ambassador Vidya Balan. The film will also be part of Maryland International Film Festival which will take place this year between March 31st and April 2nd.

Taking about the documentary, Onir said, “Very heartening to see our precious film being selected for and winning awards worldwide. A film is about celebrating diversity.”

Cate Sayers, the producer of the docu added, “The documentary highlights the universal experience of parental love and acceptance and how breaking preconceived boundaries allows us to conquer personal challenges”.

Mitu Bhowmick, the producer of the film and the director of the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne added, “As a festival that is based in the core principle of Diversity and celebrating that diversity, we are proud to be a part of the film. This film is a real gift which shares powerful stories of how refusing to accept traditional constraints allow the potential of every individual to shine through. There is no greater way than cinema to start bringing about that change”.

Koimoi.com Team

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