Archive of films Murderball / Murderball

2005, 88 min

Section: People Next Door
Year: 2016

This Oscar-nominated documentary investigates the lives of the members of rival American and Canadian wheelchair rugby teams who are determined to do whatever it takes to win. The unrestrained spectacle embraces the dissonant sounds of crashing wheelchairs, hard rock music, sentimentality, and even raw emotion.


Mark Zupan was 18 years old when an auto accident left the lower half of his body paralyzed. Yet he was unbowed by the experience: the tattooed, goat-patched tough guy worked his way to becoming the revered captain of the US wheelchair rugby team. For him – as for his rival Joe Soares, coach of the Canadian team – the brutal game is an elemental passion, and he is determined to do anything to help his team achieve victory at the championship in Sweden, then to claim the trophy at the Paralympics in Athens. This gripping, searing movie investigates the lives of the other players who, like Mark and Joe, want to live an independent life, unafraid to speak openly about taboo topics. The unrestrained spectacle, in which the dissonant sounds of crashing wheelchairs merge with hard rock music, offers more than pumping adrenaline as it embraces raw emotion. That’s why Murderball is not simply a sports documentary, because it views sports as an expression of determination and the will to break down barriers.

Sandra Hezinová

About the director

Henry Alex Rubin (b. 1976) is the son of art historian James H. Rubin. Before directing Disconnect (2012), screened at Toronto and Venice, he co-directed the documentary Who Is Henry Jaglom? (1997). He is the producer of Freestyle (2002), for which he picked up Best Documentary at Woodstock, LAIFF, and the Urbanworld FF. He is a respected director of commercials, with campaigns for Adidas, Coca-Cola, and Volvo to his credit. Dana Adam Shapiro created the animated short My Biodegradable Heart (2007), which screened at Sundance, while his second film, the feature Monogamy (2011), was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. Murderball is his third movie. Beyond filmmaking, Shapiro is involved in publishing: He is the cofounder of Icon magazine, a former editor at Spin, and a contributor to the New York Times Magazine.

About the film

Color, DCP

Section: People Next Door
Director: Henry Alex Rubin, Dana Adam Shapiro
Dir. of Photography: Henry Alex Rubin
Editor: Conor O'Neill, Geoffrey Richman
Producer: Jeffrey V. Mandel, Dana Adam Shapiro
Production: Paramount Pictures, MTV Films, Participant Media, A&E IndieFilms, EAT Films

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