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Senna premiere a hit in Sao Paulo
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Senna premiere a hit in Sao Paulo
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Nov 2010   |  4:28 am GMT  |  77 comments

I’ve just come back from the premiere of the new Senna movie which took place in a very smart cinema complex in the Jardim area of Sao Paulo.


There is a real buzz about the film as you might expect, here in Brazil. It is scheduled to open next week here at over 130 cinemas and is likely to expand from there.

The premiere was attended by many Brazilian stars, models, even the coach of the national football team! From the racing world there were Felipe Massa and Emerson Fittipaldi.

The event was hosted by Viviane Senna, Ayrton’s sister, who runs the Senna Foundation and it was attended by her two children, Bruno and Bianca. All of them have been heavily involved in the making of the film.

Viviane Senna with the film makers


Viviane paid tribute to the film’s writer, Manish Pandey, producer James Gay-Rees and director
Asif Kapaldi. It clearly took a lot for the family to agree for a documentary feature film to be made and there was a lot of trust involved.

The film uses only existing footage, much of which fans will not have seen before as it was in the FOM archives shot by many different broadcasters. There are audio extracts from many key players and the film has a very strong narrative thread. It’s written as a classic three act structure, short intro to the young Senna’s first initiation into the world of F1; main bulk of the film is his struggle to deal with the politics and his rivals to reach the top, then a short final act in which he dies very publicly.

Bruno Senna (left) with writer/producer Manish Pandey


It is a powerful film because it reminds you of the visceral nature of the sport, the brutality of the cars, the accidents, the politics at the same time as showing you the beauty of life lived on the limit. Senna is the best possible subject because not only did he push everything to the limit, but he also articulated it better than any other driver.

The film is due to open in Europe next May/June but we will have a JA on F1 screening in aid of the Senna Foundation in the new year at which there will also be a question and answer session with the team behind the film.

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77 Comments
  1. damonsmedley says:

    Does anyone know if it will be in Australian cinemas? And if so, when?

    1. Vinnie Nguyen says:

      Yea, I’d really like to see this one. Trailer looked great. Just hope they don’t do a silly, cheaply implemented, 3D release for this…

  2. Rafael L says:

    Hope they release it in the U.S. as well. We American fans don’t want to get left out!

    1. antonyob says:

      yes its going to be released in America but hes going to be called Chuck, hes American of course and in the end he defeats the enemy; though i understand thats still to be a frenchman.

      Only joking – cheap jibe !

      1. Jonathan De Andrade says:

        I cant stop laughing man!!!!

  3. Petgeo says:

    I really hope this gets to New Zealand cinemas somehow. Would love to see it on the big screen!

  4. Matt says:

    Could I be the first to ask for a ticket for that event please. (donation to the charity naturally) Kind regards. Matt Sadler

  5. Kenny says:

    Do you know if the movie will be released in Belgium as well? I hope so :(

  6. Husker says:

    Hi James, thanks so much for keeping us updated on “SENNA”

    If it’s not too much to ask, can you tell us more info on premiere dates besides Europe? I’m particularly interested in Latin America (Mexico) premiere dates because finding info on this documentary/film has proven to be nearly impossible. Everywhere I read about it, I’m assured it’s amazing, but they’re really lacking in marketing and giving info to the public.

    I’ll be forever grateful if you can ask anyone in the know about this cause I can’t wait to see it!

    Thanks so much!

    1. James Allen says:

      I’ll speak to the lady from Universal tonight.

      1. antonyob says:

        get you!

      2. Haydn Maidment says:

        I am trying to get my local independant cinema to show this : are there any details that you can give me that could put us in contact with the UK distributors?

      3. James Allen says:

        Contact Universal

      4. Husker says:

        Awesome, thanks! :D

    2. Haydn Maidment says:

      Completely off topic Husker, but your username made me double take : you wouldn’t happen to be a BSG fan by any chance? ;)

      1. Husker says:

        As in Bill Adama? But of course! ;)

  7. Boz says:

    Look forward to the film but it seems stupid that Europe has to wait until the middle of 2011.

    I would imagine that various torrent sites will be busy and the revenue figures will suffer accordingly. I presume some of the proceeds will go to the Senna Foundation so they’ll suffer too.

    A shame……

    Ps – hopefully the film also mentions the terrible accident from the day before the race which took Roland Ratzenbergers life.

      1. Paul D says:

        I hope it also mentions the Austrian flag they found upon him on the Sunday. Says everything about the man and makes me emotional just thinking about it.

    1. Mario says:

      I agree. Making people wait for half a year is a mistake. Who wants to see the film will have seen it by then and the money will go to the wrong people, as you said.

      Can we somehow make Universal change their mind? What would be the best way to persuade them?

  8. Julian Tavora says:

    Hi James,
    How can we get tickets for your screening in the new year?

    1. James Allen says:

      I’ll let you know nearer the time

  9. Sergio Seixas says:

    Mr Allen,

    What do you think how the film portraited Jean Marie Ballestre?

    1. James Allen says:

      Pretty much the way he was, as I remember him

      1. Sammy says:

        Now that’s a very political answer!

        I do remember him as a kind of anti Senna person -pro Prost person but right now, may he rest is peace.

  10. veeru says:

    Great! Those unseen tapes makes it all more interesting

  11. Galapago555 says:

    James, will it be possible to follow the screening from outside of the UK – I mean especially from Spain? You must remeber that after the Fan ambassador event you owe something to us your non – UK based readers!! :-D

  12. Gubstar says:

    Absolutely cannot wait! Would cut off my own arm at the opportunity not to have to wait until next summer to see this (especially if its the English version)
    F1 and its greatest driver on the big cinema screen……….Priceless!

  13. Ben G says:

    I hope the English version uses footage with Murray’s commentary.

    1. James Allen says:

      Every version does. There’s quite a bit of it.

  14. Jo Torrent says:

    james,

    it’s aside of this article.
    i’ve been writing a post in your “LOTUS AIM TO RISE ABOVE NEW TEAM RIVALS, AS ECCLESTONE ATTACKS” article and it is awaiting moderation for a couple of days and I got another one which doesn’t appear no matter how many times I post it.

    is there problem with me. I’m really being serious and respectful in my post I hope.

    1. James Allen says:

      It didn’t pass moderation. The rules are clear.

      1. JR says:

        The rules state, “…we will not allow comments containing profanities or ad hominem attacks” .

        That’s perfectly clear to me — but perhaps it would be worth adding a little more detail about what you consider unacceptable, James? My comments have never contained either but on occasions appear to have been deleted; for reasons that I can only guess at.

      2. Steven says:

        When my comments dont make it, or get eddited I know why! LOL

  15. Jack says:

    ah i can’t wait to see this. Will your screening be on general sale?

  16. Tim says:

    Any idea when this film will make it to the USA?

    1. Tim. says:

      I hope JA can answer this one too.

  17. abdul says:

    when you speak to the lady at universal, could you have her elaborate on why exactly they are waiting until june 2011 to premier the movie in europe?

    1. benny boy F1 says:

      I image its to coincide with the British GP to build upon the free f1 hype that is sure to be around and in all papers! line brazil launch coinciding with brazillian GP

  18. maria foy says:

    I cannot wait to see this film can’t believe that we will have to wait till next May/June will it go on general release then cos our cinema is that slow films have been on telly before we gwt them

    1. James Allen says:

      Contact your local Universal office and tell them what you think

  19. Andy C says:

    Can’t wait. Will it be first come first served james? Sounds like a great coup!

  20. S says:

    Hopefully there will be a lot in there about the good things he did. The world needs to know that he was more than a genuinely legendary racer, he was also a genuinely legendary human being, and I do not afford that plaudit easily to just anyone.

    We need more Senna’s and less war-mongering politicians in this world.

  21. S says:

    Bruno soon to be a Lotus driver.

    And so it begins again.

    Enough to send the shivers down your spine.

    1. Neil Barr says:

      You’ve got to be kidding.

  22. Pierre says:

    Hi James,
    Can’t you try to organise a Premiere for fans when it will be launched in Europe? With Senna family, Prost and Dennis for example?
    Would love to attend it…

  23. Paul Mc says:

    I started to watch Formula 1 as a kid during the 1995 season so i missed out on the Senna era. YouTube has some great Senna footage over the years and he truly was a master behind the wheel. Really looking forward to seeing this film. Senna has had a lot of memorable interviews over the years but my favourite quote is this one..

    “By being a racing driver you are under risk all the time. By being a racing driver means you are racing with other people. And if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver because we are competing, competing to win. And the main motivation is to compete for victory, it’s not to come 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th. I race to win as long as I feel it’s possible. Sometimes you get it wrong? Sure, it’s impossible to get it right all the time. But I race designed to win, as long as I feel I’m doing it right”

  24. Joseph says:

    does it show anything about Erik Comas’ accident and Erik Comas coming out of the pit lane after the red flag at imola?

    1. Paul D says:

      Is that why Comas came out the pitlane to the crash scene at Imola? i.e. because of Spa 1992 and Senna stopping? I never put two and two together on that one but it is possible.

      James do you know any more on this?

      1. Joseph says:

        As far as I know it was a case of him accidently been led out by his team and as he went past the Senna’s car he was so distraght that he withdrew from the race.

  25. Jodum5 says:

    I don’t know what the producers were thinking releasing this film with release dates so far apart. Before years end it’ll be on all the torrents.

    1. James Allen says:

      That is a risk. It is Universal, the distributors who are setting the schedule

  26. **Paul** says:

    I can’t wait to see this film, but there is also a substaincial part of me that doesn’t want to see it because I know how it ends. Seeing my hero pass away is painful and uncomfortable, to me he still is like one of my family, I grew up watching him race whilst James Hunt & Murray commentated, and I remember 94 like it was yesterday :-( I can see this becoming the first film I’ll ever need tissues in.

    1. Vic says:

      Heroes come and go, heroes rise and fall, but Senna’s legacy will live forever. In 94 i was a kid who didnt even know what a formula one car was, yet i look up to Senna today.

      Vic

    2. Paul D says:

      I believe Senna and James Hunt were close friends. Senna regularly used to go to James for advice as he trusted his opinion.

      I clearly remember Hungary 1992 and Hunt breaking the news during the commentary that Senna had offered to drive for Williams for nothing in 1993!! No one else was aware of it and Senna had told Hunt over breakfast that morning!

  27. Guilherme says:

    Hello James,

    What do you think is the best book/biography on Ayrton Senna?
    In a personal note, I’ve recently Hilton’s “Ayrton Senna : the whole story” and so far so good. There is also a brazilian one, by Ernesto Rodrigues, called “Ayrton Senna: o herói revelado”. It deals with the more personal aspects of his life, childhood, family, girlfriends, his enemies (Piquet) and that is definitely worth translating to english.

    1. James Allen says:

      I don’t think there is a best book on Senna

      1. Guilherme says:

        hmmm, so what are you waiting for? start writing it! ;)

  28. Eamonn says:

    To be one for the greats you need to have a higer amount of race wins to poles. Senna didn’t have this. Can someone explain this to me? There are no points given out on a Saturday as Truily knows well.

      1. Eamonn says:

        Does that mean he was a car breaker? Or just the unluckest man in the world.

  29. Mark Vadnais says:

    James,

    Was Milton Da Silva at the screening. I hear he still has great difficulty coping with the death of his son.

  30. Mark Vadnais says:

    Viviane Senna represents Ayrton with such style and grace. Senna would be proud.

  31. Coral says:

    I would love to go to the screening in the New Year! I can’t wait for this movie and there is no way I can wait until June.

  32. Max says:

    I was fortunate enough to see this back in Tokyo last month. I felt it was very well put together and was quite surprised by the quality level of some of the older video clips. Despite the fact that we all know how the movie ends I thought all the trials and controversies that made up Senna’s life were quite interesting. My only complaint is that I was hoping for some modern day interviews with drivers etc looking back on Senna and his career. I cannot wait until this comes out on DVD

  33. Andy C says:

    James

    as we all seem agreed the summer is too long to wait, any chance of a poll that you could share with Universal on how many people would like to see it asap (i,e early in the new year)?

    Or is there an email we can contact them to lobby for an earlier release?

    Thanks!

    Andy

  34. Vader says:

    Hi James,

    Do you know when this will be released in Australia?

  35. William says:

    I had to stop halfway through reading this…too emotional…what the film will do to me is easy to guess at this stage…I will be in pieces…for a 40-yr old!

    Senna…forever in our thoughts…RIP

  36. Gaurav Chitale says:

    Love you James.

    You made my day.
    However I am sad that the Senna Foundation will lose out on substantial fees coz many fans will see SENNA online. They (we)are not too patient. Not about their god, anyways.

    Cheers nonetheless.

    1. Shigue says:

      Gaurav, i see the movie.. it’s amazing… to the F1 fans, in particular Senna fans, the movie is awesome. Very touching, emotional, but lighter and show to us the “behind the scenes” of F1 and the “problems”.. well, i cry sometimes, i can’t forget his magic…
      However, if you’ll see online, ok, but when the movie was on the stores, buy! I’ll will, definitely!!!

  37. Jonathan says:

    How graphic is the film at the end?

    If they actually show all the footage surely it will have to be an 18?

    1. Maddie D says:

      That’s a good point. I was 13 in 1994 and quite honestly I think I was too young to see something like that. I have a feeling usually documentaries in the UK are free of certificate or something of similar wording. If they show it in detail I would have said a 15 certificate would be sensible or else a 12a so at least an adult is there to explain the context (odd to think neither age group were born when it happened though). Do you know anything about this, James?

  38. Matthew Atkins says:

    Where will the JA on F1 screening be held? London by any chance?

    I’ve been so impatient for this to come out since I heard the rumor it was being made. Senna was such prominent figure in my childhood, and he still inspires me today.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes London. In the New Year

  39. David Blandon says:

    It’s great to read/feel all your your respective excitement re the film, I’ll pass your feedback on to my Universal peers in distribution!
    I can’t begin to explain what a powerful film this has turned out to be, the director/producers really out did themselves!!

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