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Senna movie goes down a storm at Sundance Festival
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Senna movie goes down a storm at Sundance Festival
Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Jan 2011   |  2:14 pm GMT  |  66 comments

The movie about Ayrton Senna, which we have chronicled extensively on this site, has had a very positive reception at the celebrated Sundance Film Festival in America.

The film is shortlisted for best world documentary and is in a very competitive field, but it has been glowingly reviewed by the LA Times critic, who attended the Sundance screening.

Director Asif Kapadia (l) and writer Manish Pandey


“Sometimes a documentary will unexpectedly reach out and grab you by the throat, not giving you a second to breathe,” wrote Kenneth Turan of the LA Times. “That’s that way it was with “Senna,” which had its North American premiere Friday night in Sundance’s world documentary competition.

“Told solely through the use of archival footage, “Senna” is bursting with great racing sequences, many dealing with his bitter rivalry with French champion Alain Prost. But what makes this film so riveting is the remarkable personality of the man himself.

“Someone who just flat-out loved to drive, Senna was a purist who had complete disdain for the politics that had to be played in the cliquish Formula One world. Though he drove like the devil, he was a spiritual person who believed deeply and profoundly in a higher power. A philosophical mystic with a jewel thief’s nerves and a poet’s sensitivity (and good looks), Senna was an altogether remarkable human being.”

Senna director Asif Kapadia and writer/producer Manish Pandey are out at Sundance. A good response at Sundance is likely to make for a wider US distribution for the movie. It is due to open in Italy shortly and then in the UK in June.

We’re working on a special JA on F1 screening in London in early May, so keep an eye out for more details on that, hopefully in the next couple of weeks.

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66 Comments
  1. Adrian J says:

    I hope this gets screened somewhere near me…

  2. Matthew says:

    Good to see the Yanks getting a screening before us(!) At least a few more of our siblings from over the pond will be enlightened to the world of turning right occasionally… small mercies.

    Does anyone know of any countries being shown this film AFTER the UK? Kyrgyzstan? Vanuatu? Equatorial Guinea perhaps?

    Oh no, that’s right, it opens in Molobo in Feb. Maybe I should attend?

    1. Matthew says:

      EDIT: scrap idea of Molobo, likely that any long-haul flight between now and June will probably be showing it on the plane. Put me down for 2 tickets to Bahrain in March.

  3. Dave Sheppard says:

    “We’re working on a special JA on F1 screening in London in early May”

    You can count me in on that James.

  4. ayrton4ever says:

    Great news….we can’t wait so see it!!!!I hope it is going to win a prize

    1. Must be a marketing strategy to get an award of any kind. Do you know where some of us ‘working class’ folks might find a list of where and/or when the film is likely to be available here in the States? Thanks for the good work, James.

      1. James Allen says:

        Sounds like the reception it’s getting might mean it goes on more screens across the US than Universal intended before. It’s a niche film, but this kind of thing gives them more confidence it can fill cinemas

  5. Andy Fov says:

    “We’re working on a special JA on F1 screening in London in early May, so keep an eye out for more details on that, hopefully in the next couple of weeks.”

    If that’s not a signal to buy a basket full of Pro Plus and hit “refresh” on the main page every 30 seconds between now and Valentines Day, I don’t know what is!

    1. Ben James says:

      LOL, so true. Really hope a large enough venue can be found! May I suggest The Rex in Berkhamstead?

      Can’t wait for this one!

    2. Craig says:

      Or you could use technology to notify you when JA posts a new article so you can get some sleep.

      I have the JA RSS feed (link is on the top right of the website) setup on my Google Reader account. I then have Newsrob on my Android phone setup to use my Google Reader account, which will notify me when new articles are posted just like a text message. I usually read an article within 30 minutes of it being posted on my phone. :)

      1. James Allen says:

        Thanks for your loyalty!

      2. Paulo Miranda says:

        Same here. Normally no comments when i finish reading. I come back later to read some comments.

    3. Galapago555 says:

      You can also get updated on James’ articles on this site via Twitter (@Jamesallenonf1)

    4. Anil says:

      I’m checking this site constantly because of that event, don’t want to miss it!

  6. d.h. says:

    Quite simply, a legend.

  7. Alex Knibb says:

    Would this film just hurry up and arrive, please? Wasn’t the premiere at the Brazil GP last year? Why’s there such a delay before its UK release?

  8. Dan says:

    I hope this gets a wider distribution than just London, I’d love to see it in the cinema… the sound would be fantastic!

  9. Jonathan says:

    Would love to know if/when it will be screened in San Diego.

  10. Craig says:

    I really don’t understand why this documentary film has not been released world wide at the same time? I want to see the film and would gladly pay to see it at the cinema unlike most tripe currently being shown.

    1. Adrian J says:

      I know. I think it’s out on DVD in Japan soon…and yet we have to wait until the summer to see it…very frustrating!!

      1. Matt says:

        So we will be able to order brazillian / japanese blu ray and watch it on multi region player in the comfort of our own homes before cinema release? Guess it will have english subtitles where necessary?

      2. James says:

        According to the HMV website, language will be English; & Blu-Ray version as per usual extra material.

        Often they release earlier, so worth keeping eye on..

        Have ordered from HMV Japan before: typically Japanese ultra-efficient: only thing P&P not cheap as I recall (they use FedEx!), & for UK (& EU?) HM Customs likes to dip to to gouge their 20% VAT.. (so any surprise there..??)

        But hey, beats waiting ’till summertime whenever for cinema release, even if of course can’t beat cinema experience, esp. for film such as this..

        Well, can always watch again then when it hits big-screen in unusual reverse..!

      3. Speeder_76 says:

        Not only in Japan. Looks like in Brazil too. For me, it’s awkward, to say the least.

    2. david says:

      They need to find someone with money to distribute it. I guess the people with the bucks don’t think there’s enough of a market for the film to invest in it. :(

    3. I think it’s got to do with Pandey’s and Kapadia’s promotional budget and strategy. The more premieres, the more their film is talked about.

      If this means more people will get to understand what F1 was like in the 80s with Senna, Prost, Mansell, Piquet, Jean-Marie Balestre and Ron Dennis, then it is almost a public service quest they are onto.

      I hope the could promote it on GP at a time. That way I could see it in Australia in March or Malaysia in April.

      James – would that promotional strategy work for them?

  11. Gubstar says:

    Like the comments above I will be refreshing this site every 30mins until easter, let alone valentines day.

    Absolutely cannot wait!! Still cannot believe we have to wait until June for the full release. The Blu-ray is out in Japan already!!!! And I have read an interview with Asif/M Pandey that they have crammed lots of extra’s into the special edition dvd/blu-ray.

    Hopefully it will win the award at Sundance, and maybe even be put forward for something at the oscars (pipe dream)

    To watch the onboard footage of the 1988 Monaco pole lap on a giant cinema screen will be worth the admission fee alone!!!

    1. James says:

      Not quite out yet.. March 21st

      http://www.hmv.co.jp/en/product/detail/3981215

      Can’t wait..!!

  12. David says:

    when will it be released in the US?

  13. Shane says:

    I’m really looking forward to watching it. It’s a must for any F1 fan!

  14. malcolm.strachan says:

    Hopefully it comes to Canada!! (and before the Toronto International Film Festival… which I’ll probably have to wait for)

  15. Tim. says:

    JA…will it come to the US

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, from the sounds of it.

  16. Steven says:

    Is there a website where we can follow its release schedule? Im in the US and cant WAIT for it to be released!

  17. Obster says:

    This is exciting news for the filmmakers. These festivals are important in securing distribution for the movie.
    Cannot wait to see it!

  18. Paul D says:

    I’ll keep an eye out for your London Screening, I would love to attend!

  19. Galapago555 says:

    I’ve just read that it’s due to open in Spain in May 20th. http://bit.ly/dMCYHC

    Could make sense, as it’s the Spanish GP weekend, so the best moment of the year for the film to catch the biggest possible audience in Spain IMO.

    James, do you have any info about this? I’ve read somewhere (tweeter??) that is was going to open in July…

    1. James Allen says:

      I’ll check with the producers for you

  20. hendrik says:

    James,

    Can you please publish a list of where this movie will be shown. I would love know whether this will come to South Africa? If not will the movie be available on DVD?

    Senna was my hero and the reason for my love of Formula One till this day..

    1. James Allen says:

      I do know that it will be on DVD but this phase is all about getting it in as many cinemas as possible before it goes to DVD. Its should be seen in the cinema, esp for the sound

  21. Eric Weinraub says:

    Kenneth is a well established film critic and his postive response will certainly help the film here in the US.

  22. Alan Dove says:

    May you say? Hmmm…but Kung Fu Panda 2 is released in May as well. Which shall I go and see? Tough tough tough decisions to be made. :)

    1. James Allen says:

      You’re kidding…bad date clash!

  23. Steven says:

    WE have a local cinema in Stirling which shows films like this on request, I would presume that other cities and towns would as well so worth making enquiries.

    Seen various mountain biking films in this manner, including most of the NWDs

    Next e mail to the cinema!

  24. Coral says:

    I can’t wait to see this. I would love to go to the London screening! :)

  25. Husker says:

    I don’t understand why it seems so hard for Universal to just post worldwide release dates!

    There’s no Grand Prix in my country, not high end film festivals, does that mean I’m screwed? I certainly hope not, but it’s really frustrating not being able to get any kind of information regarding release dates besides the UK.

  26. Mario says:

    James, will this be on the first come first served basis, or you plan to put up a little competition as you did few times before?

    I’d love a competition! It’s the most fair way, don’t you think?

    1. James Allen says:

      Tickets will be on sale raising money for a charity. First come first served.

      1. Mario says:

        Ok. I’ll have to keep on watching out from now on.

        I thought you had some tickets to give away, must have misunderstood something.

  27. Paul says:

    James,

    Please – when you issue the tickets can you give us a few days notice so that I can be near a web connection poised with my credit card…

    Thanks – London would be ace.

  28. Kishan says:

    Can’t wait, bring it!!!!!!!!

  29. I was at the US premier at Sundance and I thought the movie was great. If you’re a big fan of Senna there won’t be anything too new that you didn’t already know, but it was nice to see it all packaged as a tight story designed more for emotional impact than anything else.

    1. Maddie30 says:

      Agreed, have also seen it and have DVD on order from Japan in March. There are a few interviews that I maybe haven’t seen all of before (probably unused bits of Racing in the Blood and similar by the looks of it) and a few snapshots of home life but vast majority not new to huge fans with YouTube access. It is a good film though. Just a pity Gerhard Berger not in it, neither is 1992 Monaco or Donnington 1993 and context of him walking out of conference partly because of Piquet not explained to new viewer. Perhaps they’ve gone for a build up of dramatic tension at the expense of showing lighter/’normal’ side and 2 brilliant bits of driving, or perhaps I’m just a fuss pot!

      Pity I won’t be able to come to screening as I’m on holiday in early May, still, by the sound of it, at least I get to see Kung Fu Panda on the plane, so, you know, every cloud has a silver lining!! :)

  30. Andy C says:

    I have actually just finished reading Christopher Hiltons senna book last night.

    The more I read about Ayrton, the more i learn to be honest. It seems he was a completely different character away from the track.

    Can’t wait for the London screening James. Should be epic to see it on a big screen. I will try to get to that, and then go and watch it again on general release.

    I havent been to the cinema twice to see the same film since Dumb and Dumber ;-)

    Any idea how many tickets there will be? I.e size of cinema? Is the charity the mechanics trust, or Sennas foundation?

  31. Matt says:

    Does anyone know if/where you can buy the poster for the film? Its great – going to be framed and put in my study.

  32. Ivan Julian says:

    How’s the sound quality on this movie?

    If there’s one thing I consistently find disappointing in regards to most F1 footage, it’s how deplorable the audio track is. In-car footage often sounds like a computer video game.

    As a rule of thumb, genuine film cameras seem to capture the true aural experience of an F1 car better than video tape. In particular, especially if it’s a fixed film camera which allows you to hear the rarkable echos off surrounding buildings of the cars flying past. This is particularly true of Moncao.

    However, of all the footage I would LOVE to see, which I suspect isn’t in the film, I would have LOVED to have been a fly on the wall during some of Senna’s contract negotiations with Ron Dennis and Frank Williams. I’ve read a number of books on that subject and how should one say it? Apparently it was very tense stuff.

  33. Robert says:

    Is Senna the movie coming to South Africa and by when ?
    Or will it be available on DVD or Blue Ray

    Regards
    R.R

    1. James Allen says:

      Will be available on DVD certainly. Don’t know about cinema release in S Africa. Will ask

  34. Fatima says:

    Where can we buy Senna the movie in south Africa? do you have an idea of a release date for SA. Thanks

  35. Ivan Krause says:

    For South Africans…

    I have contacted both NuMetro and Ster Kinekor…the people i spoke to have NO IDEA about the movie…so my guess is that it is going to be a NO.

    So it will have to be DVD / Blu-ray for us….with the surround volume really really really loud!

  36. Sean says:

    Will it be screened in South Africa, and where?

  37. Angela says:

    My family were (are) TOTAL Senna fans. We live in Canada and all of us would DEFINITELY rent/buy/watch this documentary. When will it be available in Canada?

  38. Claire Palfreyman says:

    My Dad and I are true F1 fans and there are many more in Canada. We’re a small nation in a large country but we’re here! Please bring Senna to us. I’ll help with the Marketing!

  39. Angela says:

    PLEASE bring this movie/documentary to Vancouver, Canada!!!!! My whole family are still fans! Ayrton was an amazing person. If you cared enough to see him properly, you could see his sensitivity by looking into his eyes – even on the tv.

  40. Annette & Dick says:

    Yes Yes -we are in Ontario & are F1 followers-saw him in Montreal when he was driving for Lotus-fans of his forever-would like to buy mouvie.

  41. Thanks , I just wrote a summary on my essay

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