“American Weightlifting” – A Documentary Review


 

“American Weightlifting: The Documentary” is the two-hour story of a ‘wild love affair’ shared by a select group of insanely dedicated athletes.

The first hour chronicles the domestic history of the sport, bringing us forward in time and revealing the current state of affairs in the sport. Interviews with veteran coaches are back dropped by a montage of athletes rituals, and an intriguing piano score, impressively composed by Mr. Everett.

If you were not previously enamored with Olympic Weightlifting, the first hour of “American Weightlifting” might feel like a slow-moving Kickstarter campaign. I sincerely hope you do not quit watching early.

Suddenly, as if the film were given a rousing halftime speech from Coach Carter (Gene Hackman in Hoosiers), rock & roll music kicks in, and your blood starts pumping.

The second hour answers all of your questions. “Why am I watching this? What does it take be a weightlifter? Why should I love this? What is the purpose of this film?

These answers are illustrated in the fears, pressures, hardships, successes, and failures that athletes and coaches alike must endure. The strategies and nuances of competition are brought forth.  You learn about what it’s like to train for years, only to be judged in twenty seconds for all of your hard work. You feel the sheer joy of what it’s like to succeed in that moment, watching athlete and coach unable to contain themselves in celebration.

Emotions run high and deep. Coaches describe how they ‘refuse to die’ before they accomplish the elusive goal of sending an American athlete to the Olympics. In the most poignant moment of the film, Aimee Everett gives us raw honesty that inspires.

Perhaps most importantly, you see that young high school kids will form waiting lists to participate in these programs, and why not? The Presidential fitness test of a mile run, sit-ups, and pull-ups in most PE classes is as popular as VHS tapes. There is a place for this sport among our youth, if we make it for them.

The film finishes strong and ties together the history from the first hour seamlessly in the second. You’ll think to yourself, “Ah, now I know why all those stories are meaningful.”

“American Weightlifting” is not about raising money for the sport, even though the need for money is mentioned throughout. Greg explicitly tells you why weightlifters don’t need benefactors. He just wants you to watch the film, and decide if you are in, or if you are out.

So do I. In his first film, Greg Everett has done a masterful job. The film is powerful and moving. The images and stories connect. Every athlete, parent, and coach needs to watch it.

Greg Everett and I are not friends. We have never met. I do buy all of his books, and follow his weightlifting programs. I am a fan, but I am also an objective writer. I was not paid for this review. I do not do curls.

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