Brutal Beauty: Tales of the Rose City Rollers

In this ode to girl power, Chip Mabry delves into the world of Portland's all-girl roller derby league, the Rose City Rollers, following the athletes through their injuries and disappointments as they attempt to skate their way to the top. Mabry sets a fast pace for the documentary, quickly establishing the Rollers as the underdogs determined to fight for the chance to at least compete, if not place in the national competition. Brutal Beauty examines the sport without glamorizing it, going beyond the stereotypes of derby girls as Rockabilly pinups and R. Crumb fantasies, in order to reveal the librarians, doctors, teachers and nonprofit directors who come together to "kick the lipstick off some bitches." Part of the fascination with roller derby is the culture of female power that has built up around it. With names like Blood Clottia and formidable tattoos, the women extol a philosophy that goes beyond their lifestyle choices. In addition to showing the women's dedication and fierce mentality, he introduces us to the superfans, boyfriends, referees and mascots that make up this world. Through interviews and performance footage (Eli Dorsey's strong camera work captures the ferocity of the sport without aping the frantic editing and frenzied pace of sports television), Mabry makes a convincing case that roller derby is more than just a hobby — it's a chance for the everywoman to develop the alter ego she's always wished she had. (NR) DEIDRE CRAWFORD

Fri., Nov. 12, 6:30 p.m.; Nov. 13-14, 3 & 5 p.m.; Nov. 13-18, 7 & 9 p.m., 2010

 
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