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Hot doc Fightville hits Toronto theatres Friday

Fightville, which is not only the best MMA documentary I’ve ever seen but also one of the best sports documentaries, will finally hit Toronto theatres on April 6, making the date one very, very good Friday. I first saw the film at Hot Docs a year ago and was blown away:

Fightville is a gritty and brilliantly gripping bruises-and-all documentary about small town fighters with UFC dreams… No hyperbole here, this is a sharply observed and richly told drama about what it means to be a fighter. Not the big-money contracts and sponsorship deals and pay-per-view bonuses, not the ring card girls and cage fighter groupies, not the glamour and the glory and spectacle of arena-filling action heroes like Anderson Silva or Georges St. Pierre. This isn’t some glorified Tapout commercial.”

Well, here we are a year later, I’ve seen the film twice since and not only is it still fantastic, it’s actually gotten better. That’s because one of the fighters profiled is Dustin Poirier, an up-and-comer when the film was shot who’s since become a featherweight title contender. Poirier faces the Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung, at UFC on Fuel 3 in May. It’s the kind of story that filmmakers would give their eye teeth to discover.

I caught up with Fightville co-director Michael Tucker by phone a couple of days ago. Tucker was in Lafayette, Louisiana, where Poirier trains under Tim Credeur, for a screening of Fightville.

“Three years ago when I started this project, who would’ve known that this is where we’d all end up?” says Tucker. “Dustin was just a kid — he’s only 23 now — and I knew nothing about mixed martial arts. But here we are, he’s firmly established himself within the UFC and I’ve found myself watching fights, especially Dustin’s, although it’s hard; I don’t want to see him get hurt. I’m fascinated by the people who are fighters, that they’re often not  the kinds of people you would expect to be fighters, and that it takes a lot of talent, skills, dedication and luck to make it.”

If you’re reading this, then you owe it to yourself to see Fightville.

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