“Leo must be jamming!”

That is what Frank Deford’s response was when he heard that the Olympics would be considering Roller Derby as an additional sport for the 2020 Olympics.  I will write on that topic in a future posting.

What a week for Roller Derby!  I know there is something every week.  1200 leagues worldwide, but it is impossible for me to keep up with everything everywhere, although I am certain some of you think I do.

Photo by bigevil600 from stock.xchng.com.

But the other thing that occurred is that “Derby Baby” – the film that we have all been waiting for the past year and a half is finally emerging!

The Sonoma festival (www.sonomafilmfest.org) will have one showing of “Derby Baby” at 3 PM,  Saturday, April 14th.  And fully tying it in with Roller Derby, there will be a Roller Derby demo and and flash mob  in front of the Sebastiani Theater at 2 PM, with Derby girls from the various leagues nearby (Resurrection, Sonoma County,  BAD girls, Sacramento, etc) on hand in their team uniforms and skates participating.

Then they will join the festival goers in seeing the film.  Tickets are still available at http://www.sonomafilmfest.org.  And superstars Suzy Hotrod and Val Capone (both who appear in the film along with The Commissioner) will also be on hand.

OK, I have a confession;  I saw “Derby Baby” this past week – well a rough cut, not color or sound-balanced or fully edited.  Obviously I can’t review it for a bunch of reasons, not the least of which is The Commissioner is in it, but I will tell you a few things.

This movie is a labor of love.  Robin and Dave and Ron and all the others at Robin Bond Media have put their heart, soul, and money into it, and the fact that they are great filmmakers certainly makes a difference.  Right up until and through the World Cup, they have gone to regionals, nationals, Rollercon, skating rinks in Ireland and you name it to really get the essence of the sport that is really a culture.

There is not an exploitive minute in the film, and we get to hear the athletes and participants tell who they are, why they are doing what they do – often at great personal sacrifice – and what the game means to them.  You see the chills, spills, and thrills, of course, but this is the kind of feature you will want to take your friends, fellow workers, whomever with you to see and you can say “Now do you understand, just a little?”  Just hear Suzy Hotrod, Val Capone and the others put these things in words.

Derby Baby

Now let’s talk about film festivals, and why you should come to Sonoma, besides the fact that I live here.

Even if  you are not someone who would travel to Sundance or Cannes,  Sonoma is a wonderful fun casual affair:  All screens are within walking distance of the Plaza, the center of this town where California declared its independence from Mexico in 1846.

There are wonderful restaurants (all prices, all casual), history around you, and of course the famous wineries.  And Director Kevin McNeely has many features, documentaries, short films, workshops between April 11th and 15th in 8 venues running continuously every day.  Individual tickets for “Derby Baby” are on sale now at http://www.sonomafilmfest.org.  Sonoma is just an hour northeast of San Francisco.

This has become one of the west’s favorite weekends.  Robin Williams, Susan Sarandon, Bruce Willis, John Lasseter and others have been honored, and this year John Waters will be on hand talking and showing his works.

But most importantly, Sonoma is my home.  Come and meet Robin, Dave and Ron and hear them talk about their Roller Derby experiences, and the Commissioner will hold court, possibly even an open house for my Derby denizens.

And those of you elsewhere, please see how we all can make this film a success around the US and the world…You will be called upon!  Oh by the way, not only did my father invent the game, and I ran it later, but I live in Sonoma and Co-founded the festival in 1997……small world.

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3 comments on ““Leo must be jamming!”

  1. Jerry, I hope I get the chance to go! It’s going to be great!

    Leo shares a birthday with my brother! Now I won’t forget!

    Thanks for keeping us on the pulse of derby & how it’s growing & evolving!
    OXO Love, Blastfemi

  2. Set realistic expectations.

    As far as I’ve read, roller sports as a whole is being considered, not roller derby in particular. The article that mentioned it was from last summer. Roller sports goes up for consideration every four years. The last time it was rejected in favor of golf and I believe rugby.

    The thing about the Olympics is that it’s made out of bureaucracy, politics, big business and of course, corruption. The only time any roller sport has ever appeared (in 30+ years of trying?) was roller hockey which got in as a demonstration sport (not a regular event) in Spain during 1992’s Barcelona games. Roller hockey is huge in Spain, so attendance was sure to be good. It didn’t become a regular event and has appeared in the Olympics again.

    FIRS has always batted zero before and after that. Which isn’t to say they can’t get in for 2020. If they do, the trick then is to STAY in. Baseball and softball got the heave-ho last time. Maybe because they require a specialized stadium to be played in, maybe because they’re “too American.” Tough to say why.

    Different sports try to lobby to get in (or get back in, a la baseball and softball). Sports that are popular in the region the games will be held in maybe have a better chance? Sports that will sell tickets there are key, as are sports that deliver TV ratings, ad revenue and sponsorship money.

    There’s folks from other disciplines who’d blow fuses if our discipline got in and theirs didn’t. These folks are on the boards of the NGBs and on the FIRS board, we’re not. The godfather of speed skating Down Under pretty regularly posts about derby being a “fake sport,” I guess he lost some speed skaters to Bill Griffiths back in the 70s.

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