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Countdown to Senna movie night in London
Countdown to Senna movie night in London
Posted By: James Allen  |  02 May 2011   |  6:27 pm GMT  |  34 comments

Tomorrow night we have the JA on F1 screening of the Sundance Award winning documentary movie “Senna”, followed by a Q&A with director Asif Kapadia and writer Manish Pandey. The event, which is supported by TAG Heuer and in aid of the GP Mechanics Trust, sold out in 45 minutes when the tickets went on sale back in March. There will be some special guests from Senna’s career there including mechanics and rivals and a special message from someone very close to him.

The film goes on general release in the UK on June 3rd. A video of tomorrow night’s event will be posted here on the site.

My colleague Greg Rust, who presents the studio end of the Australian TV coverage for which I do the on site presentation, went to see the Senna movie last night in Sydney and was blown away by it.

So I asked him if he’d like to do a guest post for JA on F1 and he accepted.
Here is Greg’s take on the film:

“I’d heard a lot of good things about the new Senna movie but the sceptic in me wondered how much of this was hype. Typically motorsport movies are never done right, certainly not the fictional ones anyway. Don’t get me started on flicks like Driven! So, I’m not sure if FOM was nervous about opening its archives for this documentary but I am so glad they did.

Tonight in Sydney I was fortunate enough to catch a special advance screening of ‘Senna’ ahead of its Australian premiere in August. James had told me at the GP in Melbourne that it was a “masterpiece” and how Lewis Hamilton’s father Anthony was left speechless after seeing it. Now I understand why.

If you asked me which driver I admired the most or idolised as a youngster Ayrton was it. The timing of my career and his meant that I never got to meet him let alone interview him. Even now when colleagues recount stories of speaking to Senna I’m in awe. It happened on the weekend when my co-host Daryl Beattie (a former 500cc bike Grand Prix winner) told me he’d spoken with Senna in the garage at Suzuka one year.

I won’t spoil it for you but the movie is brilliant! There is footage and interviews I had never seen before and I think it gives a great insight into the man and why he was so special. The filmmakers cleverly avoided a documentary voiceover to tell this story. Instead they rely on original audio or interviews with people who knew Senna well both inside and outside of Formula One. It’s captivating and should strike a chord even with those who don’t follow the sport closely. There are moments where you evesdrop on private conversations in the garage or gain rare access to driver’s briefings plus a few wonderful reminders of the frank expression of views we miss from many drivers today.

The credits rolled only a few hours ago and already I want to see it again. I’m certain F1 fans in this country won’t be disappointed when the film opens in cinemas in a couple of months time. Race you to the front of the queue!”

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Miriam G Mendes

We, Brazilians, will never get over this terrible loss. The life of Senna and his accomplishments in motor-racing will be unmatched for us. Sunday mornings had a total different atmosphere while the F1 circus was at show and he was there to perform the way we all know he would always do.

Only after his death did we get to know about another great characteristic of his personality: generosity. He kept his social work in secret. He did so much for the poor and he did not want that to be exploited in the media, so few people knew about it.

The Ayrton Senna Foundation, run by his Sister, Viviane,is well known today for the initiatives they maintain in order to help hundreds of poor children, and they do it with the very same proficiency and talent Senna has shown in his successful carrer.

Senna will live forever!


Vue Cinemas will release the Senna film, they will have it at all their cinemas UK wide + Dublin


Attended the showing last night, what an amazing evening. Not only an excellent documentary, but the tributes from Martin Brundle, Sid Watkin’s, Jackie Stewart and Terry Fullerton were an honor to hear.

A very emotional, humbling night and a great insight into the man himself.

Thanks for organising the event.



You have probably seen this before, but this really shows just how much believe he had in his own ability and just how far attitudes to “young drivers” have come in F1:




Doesn’t it irritate you that in the movie many of the in-car shots have audio which is not from the same footage (sometimes not even the same year)? Also the coverage of the 1988 Monaco crash used in car from 1989….I thought it an unprofessional oversight.

Nika Wattinen

I agree some of the in-car editting was questionable… e.g. the engine sound not sync’d with what they’re showing on screen. But this is just a minor annoyance, and you can’t take away from what they’ve achieved in this movie.

I was pretty astounded at some of the interactions with J-M Balestre… Just happen to be reading the parts of the Bernie Ecclestone biography about Balestre today…

James – What are your thoughts on the former FIA President? He doesn’t come across very well in either the Senna film or the Ecclestone book…


Yeah much of the movie was really about JMB’s seeming bad blood with Senna. Fascinating stuff, talk about a dictator. He really did think he was the “president” of something he really wasn’t.

The movie was ok….I wasn’t that impressed to be honest. Those things I whined about could have been fixed so easily. Bizarre they did it the way they did.


Really looking forward to seeing “Senna” i hope it gets a good screening here in Dublin.

There is some excellent footage on YouTube of some of Senna’s best moments in the sport and i hope to see a lot more come its release.

Im really interested to read the reactions of current F1 drivers who have seen it. Wonder if Schumacher has seen it?


Personally, I don’t see what the fuss is about. It’s a terribly inadequate and hopelessly amateurish documentary that told me that Senna did absolutely no wrong and it was all everyone else’s fault.


It is brilliantly edited and the drivers’ briefings footage is definitely fantastic (probably the only racing footage in the film i had never seen before). But it’s true that the film focuses on specific moments where Senna felt unfairly treated and omits a lot of the “other” situations he was involved in (Adelaide 89, Imola 89, Estoril 88, Adelaide 92…). The list is long. Prost was no saint, but he gets crucified for arguably the only occasion (Japan 89) when he decided to use Senna-type tactics. But it’s a moving film.


Certainly not the impression I got from it – he came across as an outsider politically (which is true) and it highlighted grievances about his disqualification at Japan 1989, but you need only look at the Jackie Stewart interview to see he wasn’t by any means perfect.

Anyway, thanks again James for organising it – as I said earlier for someone like me who didn’t get to see him race at the time it was quite an experience.


James, I started following Formula1 passionately from 2007 (And because of the intense championship battle that ensued I have since become a junkie).

Does FOM have race DVD’s (not season reviews) available to the public. Or can i get these from any other place if you know.


Yes they do. Go to the website of Duke Marketing, they sell them


I won’t give you my thoughts on Greg Rust, but..

“Tonight in Sydney I was fortunate enough to catch a special advance screening of ‘Senna’ ahead of its Australian premiere in August”

it’s Australian premiere was back in February at the Adelaide Film Festival.


sorry, hit the go button too soon.

It really is a fantastic film, really really well done. Fantastic insight and some just brilliant behind the scenes (and forgotten) footage.


The hairs on my arm tingle just thinking about this movie! For those who have seen it, watch it again with the alternate audio .. simply brilliant! More insights about scenes that were not included and information on how the footage was compiled.

Thanks to FOM and the Senna family for the footage that they provided. Simpy brilliant, worthy of the man ..


I watched it last night and am still raving about it. I want to watch it again and probably will. It was definitely an emotional movie that made me love F1 even more and Ayrton too.
If the Austin track could swing some commercial arrangement with Netflix for a public viewing it would be great for F1.


On ya Rusty!


Loved how he managed to mention Beatties career in a film review for Senna. True class. Was missing a Webber update in their though.

I feel I want to say something about how he said nothing about anything really and irony, but instead I’ll point out that he was lucky to see in early and I’ll just point out that others who live in different countries have said that as Senna fans not much was new, so I would be interested to see what other think of it, whether a few guys are just boasting of how much footage they have seen and going a bit over the top or whether GR is just living in V8 SC land



Are you in Toronto, Canada?
Do you wish you could have all the Senna movie F1 fun our British F1 brothers are enjoying?

Senna playing at HotDoc on Wednesday May 4th and a few days later again. Google HotDocs. See you there!


In the mean time while waiting for June 3rd, it’s definitely worth going to see TT3D.


I’ve seen the film – it is truly excellent. I’m not ashamed that I cried at the end. Epic documentary.


You’ve got to have a heart of stone not to cry at the end. Both my partner and I were in tears by the movie’s end.

A lot of credit goes to Pandey, Kapadia, the producer and whoever composed the music score. They probably made it even more emotional than it needed be.

A truly brilliant film.

I can’t wait to see it again at the Sydney Film Festival. http://sff.org.au/public/films


Hi James, I’m looking forward for your comments and video of tomorrow’s event. I’m especially interested in the Q&A with Asif Kapadia and Manish Pandey, and very intrigued on the guests you are bringing.

I didn’t remember how boring were this periods of three weeks between races…

Richard Craig

James, from your conversations with Asif Kapadia and Manish Pandey, do you know if “Senna” will get a release outside London through the major chains (Vue, Cineworld and Odeon)? I reckon I can see it at Filmhouse (Edinburgh) or Glasgow Film Theatre, but I’d love to see it on a massive screen (arthouse cinemas tend to have smaller screens/theatres…


Yes it seems it will have quite a wide release from what I hear. Don’t know exact details, but the film makers seem happy that it will get seen across the country. I think it’s something like 70 cinemas.


If it’s anything like the recent TT3D movie it whilst haivng a wide release the showings could be quite limited (TT3D had a mere 2-3 showings a week in its release week!!)

So i’d book early and keep an eye out as it might be a case of blink and you’ll miss it.


James, when will it screen in the US?

Nika Wattinen

A really great documentary. It really took me back.

I was really quite emotional at the end, even though we all know how it ends.


It will be screened in the US from August 12. Here’s some info on it: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/aryton-senna-documentary-be-released-183334


Although I won’t be there, I have to congratulate James on this event, it shows the high esteem in which he is held in the F1 world.

A great time to all!


I watched an “illegal” version of it recently, it’s great. Austin needs to do itself a favor and have a screening (or thirty) with promotion for the GP. I want to see it on the big screen. Maybe mid June would be a good idea so they could snag a few F1 people before they head back to Europe after the Canadian GP? Tavo Hellmund needs to hire me. How many other people in this city stormed Silverstone in 92? That’s as good of a CV as anyone needs! *waits by the phone*



To say I’m looking forward to the premier tomorrow is the understatement of the year! From what I’ve heard it’s excellent. Thanks again for organising the event.



James, if there are any people unable to make it and there is a spare ticket I would love to go! If not I hope that everyone has a great evening.

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