Hockey gets the red carpet treatment next month in Cannes when the documentary, Red Army, makes its world premiere at the renowned film festival.
The movie, made by director Gabe Polsky (The Motel Life) and co-produced by Hollywood heavy hitters Jerry Weintraub and Werner Herzog, chronicles the dominant Soviet machine and sets it against the changing socio-political backdrop.
And, of course, it goes deep into how and why this club was so good.
“The thing most people in the West know about Soviet hockey is the 1980 disaster,” says Polsky, the son of Russian immigrants. “What many don’t know is how and why they were so good. I think that’s almost more miraculous – how amazing these guys were (for so long).”
Polsky, who was a third-line center at Yale from 1998-2001 before going all-in on a movie-making career, says he became fascinated with the Soviet hockey system as a youth player when he was coached by a Russian native. As he learned more about the creative, commanding style of play, and the propaganda machine behind it, it fueled his inspiration.
The film, whose rights have been picked up by Sony Pictures Classics, uses Slava Fetisov as its primary storyteller; the legendary defenseman was a touchstone for several generations of Red Army hockey and is reflective, Polsky says, of the Soviet people. “And that’s what this story is,” he says. “It’s not just a hockey movie. It’s a very deep and emotional story that gets into the Russian soul.”
Here’s a trailer to whet your appetite.
Sony is looking at early 2015 for a theatrical release in North America and is hopeful the documentary will also play at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Cannes Film Festival runs May 14-25.