Next Monday, October 10th, sees the UK launch of the DVD of the award winning F1 documentary film “Senna”.
The film has won awards, including an audience award at the Sundance Film Festival and has had great reviews world wide for its portrayal of the tragic icon and his struggles to reach the top of the F1 ladder.
Much of its success lies in its crossover appeal – many people with no interest in F1 have been captivated by it and hopefully some of them now take more of an interest in the sport.
Britain’s leading film critic, Mark Kermode, no F1 fan himself, wrote a review of the DVD in which he said, “This electrifying documentary is as dramatic, suspenseful and tragic as any feature film I have seen this year and I encourage those with zero affinity for fast cars to seek it out forthwith.”
I caught up with the film’s creator Manish Pandey (above right with director Asif Kapadia) at the weekend for a quick chat about the reception the film has received worldwide and what fans can look forward to on the DVD package,
“When you make a film you should always make it for yourself,” he says.”Because at least there will be an internal consistency to it, it’s not a committee and this film is true to me. Once it’s out you don’t own it any more. The reaction has way exceeded out expectations. The film has done five times as well in UK as the best case scenario that Universal had for it. It’s the number three documentary ever in UK in box office terms and the number one British made documentary. That speaks for itself.
“In America the film has had the highest screen average of any documentary this year, constantly on in LA and NYC and rolling around the other states.”
The influential Screen magazine reports that “Senna” is among the favourites to get an Oscar nomination. Next month the notifications of the films being short listed will go out.
“The reaction from F1 world has been the most overwhelming thing,” Pandey adds. “People who were around at the time – such as yourself, James – have said it put them back there, that it’s highly evocative and that it was him.”
Bernie Ecclestone was so delighted with the film he famously gave Pandey a hug after the premiere and said, “Super job, let’s do something else together.”
“As a piece of work it has inspired people who have been connected with it,” says Pandey. “The film has inspired them to push themselves as far as they could with the budget they had. Universal have won two awards for the marketing of the film. That’s all come from Sena, the man, who he was. People watch him and people want to be involved and that’s the story of the film.”
The DVD comes out on October 10th and the package of extras is interesting. Here is Pandey’s take on what’s included and why.
“There is a film makers commentary which is well worth listening to with the film going. Normally its’ stop start and people have to check their notes how things were done. Asif (Kapadia, director), James (Gay-Rees, producer) and I did it in one take, because were were so into the material and had so much knowledge of each frame. That shows what each of us brought to the table on that film
“We’ve added in many of the interviews we filmed, we show them as extended talking heads; there is a lot of Alain Prost, Ron Dennis, a lot of the key journalists. What we are able to do is be more forensic about some of the events that took place.
“Another key feature is the whole of Gerry Donaldson’s interview with Ayrton from 1989, when he was quite down, which culminates in his speech about Monaco 1988, which takes in his spirituality, and his philosophy as a driver.
“There is also a two and a half hour version of the film, where you can see the film with the talking heads cut in like a conventional documentary.”
Senna DVD, released October 10th £15-99. Blu ray £19-99