F1 Winter Break
Senna movie gets boost in UK and USA
Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Jan 2012   |  5:00 pm GMT  |  72 comments

The success of the Senna movie continues to impress, with news today that not only have DVD sales in the UK surpassed 600,000 copies, making it the most successful British made sports documentary ever, but that it has been nominated for some prestigious awards.

The writer Manish Pandey has been shortlisted for the documentary screenplay award by the prestigious Writers Guild of America. Producer James Gay Rees has also been nominated by the Producers Guild of America.

And also today comes news that BAFTA has long listed “Senna” in six categories, including best documentary and best editing. Surprisingly however the soundtrack is not nominated. This goes some way to make up for the disappointment of not being nominated for an Oscar. The shortlist for BAFTA nominations will be published in two weeks time.

Pandey will attend the WGA ceremony in Los Angeles on February 19 and it comes at an interesting time as the international success of “Senna” and its crossover appeal, particularly to the female audience, has created a mini-boom in motorsport related movie projects. There’s a Hunt/Lauda project on the go and others are starting to spring up. Most never get made, but it shows that there’s an appetite among studios at the moment, clearly.

Pandey’s next screenplay, based on the relationship between 1958 F1 champion Mike Hawthorn, Peter Collins and Enzo Ferrari is written and is being finalised this month.

Meanwhile Bruno Senna is trying to fix a drive for this year’s championship and his uncle’s former team Williams appears to be a possibility. The CEO of oil company OGX, which sponsored Bruno at LRGP last season, tweeted on Friday about Bruno driving for Williams. Senna himself has played down his chances and there has been no further word from the team.

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nice of them to promote nanny mcphee



I got three copies of the DVD for Christmas!!

I watched one and was very disappointed.

Even though Senna was slightly before my era,

I thought that many of the important and interesting details were left out.

--It started too quickly -- He appeared to be in a winning F1 car much to early in the film.

-I remember from just after his death, seeing a school photo of his class.... they were 8-10year olds -- Looking at a picture of maybe 60 people, one person stood out --Senna.

You could see the determination in his young face.

This would have been a good starting point....

Also, the BBC documentary just after his death had many good insights which i felt were missing from the film -- His karting days, moving to england- and his F1 test with mclaren where his engine blew on his fastest lap - but he crossed the line with flames out of the back of the car -- before negotiating a rerun with Ron Denis!! -- Also the BBC points about hanging out with Frank Williams and his wife at weekends!! - coming over to thier place for dinners ect...

That huge determination from an early age was totally ignored in the film.

The other major point i was looking forward to but which never happened was his press conference after taking out prost at suzuza 1990 -- where he said that he promised himself that- if he was not leading into the first corner, he would challenge for the lead - regardless of the consequences!!

Those comments always put the hairs standing on the back of my neck!!

Other than that, I thought that only new insights was the footage from the drivers briefing.

I can understand non F1 fans thinking the film was good -- but there was too much left out for my liking!!


Understood but in a film of 100 minutes which is supposed to crossover to a mainstream audience, it's impossible to show everything.


I think one of the major differentiators between the general public and successful sports people - and sports superstarts in particular(F1 - golf -tennis -ect )is their drive to succeed - even from a very young age - maybe from as young as 3 years old.

I believe that senna was super motivated and driven -- I think that this would have been an interesting area to focus on -- and i was disappointing to see him in a winning F1 car within (what seemed like) a few minutes of the film starting!!

I think that non F1 fans could also appreciate this.


Agree with you James. Kenny seems like he has no appreciation for these producers. What a shame. And his opinion about:

"Looking at a picture of maybe 60 people, one person stood out –Senna.

You could see the determination in his young face.

This would have been a good starting point…."

...i'm sorry, but what a silly suggestion. That would make a completely boring start to a movie!

100 minutes isn't much time at all to get all the details in. My wife, absolutely loved it, and she hates F1!


Despite being a lifelong F1 fan, I didn't expect much from this film and I was completely wrong not to do so. It was brilliant, far better than I could have imagined. The correspondents that they used were first rate: the passionate, emotion from the gent from the USA and the incisive elegance from the gent from the UK. If there are any 'holdouts' left waivering - rent or buy this film, you won't regret it!


Despite being a lifelong F1 fan, I didn't expect much from this film and I was completely wrong not to do so. It was brilliant, far better than I could have imagined. The correspondents that they used were first rate: the passionate, emotion from the gent from the USA and the incisive elegance from the gent from the UK. If there are any 'holdouts' left waivering - rent or buy this film, you won't regret it, trust me.


Despite being a lifelong F1 fan, I didn't expect much from this film and I was completely wrong not to do so. It was brilliant, far better than I could have imagined. The correspondents that they used were first rate: the passionate, emotion from the gent from the USA and the incisive elegance from the gent from the UK. If there are any 'holdouts' left waivering - rent or buy this film, you won't regret it.


Oh but I wonder how the Senna movie is doing in Brazil, surely it must be breaking all sorts of record over there + south America in general.

Yes, glad to see the Senna movie going from strength to strength and am pretty sure it's going to steal the show at the BAFTAS.

As for that Mike Hawthron, Peter Collins & Enzo film, now there's a flop getting made if I ever did see one.

I mean, who even knows those blokes, for sure only pensioners will have a mild interest in seeing that.

As for the Hunt/Lauda project, not sure that has legs too seeing as none of them died on track.

I suggest, all these producers hurrying to cash in, should hold their horses till Hammy retires then make the Lewis Hamilton movie.

I tell you, that is a documentary that will be on everybody's Christmas list when it comes out even more so in the US where Lewis is just about the only driver recognizable in the States thanks to Nicole & Rihanna etc.


What difference does it make if you have not heard of the lead 'characters'? Almost every film you have ever watched has seen you introduced to the protagonists for the first time. No one knew about Luke Skywalker before the original Star Wars Film, It's about the story, drama and action.

Also, I find the notion that the film will not be worth watching because no-one dies on track entirely distasteful.

Matthew K Francis

You need to read the book 'Mon Ami Mate' about Hawthorn and Collins' friendship. Amazing story, taking in championships, deaths and a full explanation of the tragedy at Le Mans '55.

A good story is always a good story no matter how 'old', otherwise not many people would bother with Shakespeare would they!


@ GOFERET and qoute (As for that Mike Hawthron, Peter Collins & Enzo film, now there’s a flop getting made if I ever did see one.

I mean, who even knows those blokes, for sure only pensioners will have a mild interest in seeing that.)

Maybe you should take more off a interest in F1 it has a rich history.

It surprises me that all the so called F1 fans are not interested in what makes up there sport they enjoy so much now.

Personally I think its great news that someone is prepared to bring this history to the screen


+1. I mean what planet does somebody have to be from to NOT know who Enzo Ferrari is? Senna the documentary was brilliant, brought a tear to my eyes and I'm from Brooklyn, not exactly a hotbed of F1 fanaticism. He left us much too soon. May he sleep among the tall trees.


Well said Garry!


Totally agree! F1 is not just about the current racing, it is about the stories and the legends.

I encourage anyone with any interest in F1 to learn more about the history, it is fascinating, and your knowledge will add depth and enjoyment to every race.

It is great to see more media attention following the Senna movie, I hope it will drive more interest in this great sport, and I look forward to 'Rush' and more!!


What are you talking about? The Hawthorn/Collins and Enzo film sounds a genius idea. It's not being made to cater for those who merely remember these individuals. Of course it will have to be made to perfection but if it is made to perfection like the Senna film people will see it and learn about three men they otherwise wouldn't have known about. That is the whole purpose of it!


Great news for the film, I thought it was a shame to have been overlooked by Oscar but hopefully a Bafta will go some way to easing the oversight. Those responsible for this wonderful film have been taken to the hearts of the F1 fan community as 'one of our own' and deservedly so.

I'm not sure that the world is ready for a glut of F1 movies. They would get snapped up by all of us here, but the world at large... probably not enough of a market. Senna may have been unique and caught the right film at the right time.

Re the '76 Lauda/Hunt season, it seems it's gathering pace and I found an interesting article if JAF1 will allow the link


Ron Howard, always good for attention to detail and research is directing, filming has began. Looks like it may make it to the silver screen fingers crossed.


in Mexico it did really bad, i went to the theater 2 days after the premier, and we were 8 people.. real shame.. an amazing documentary..


Aah I would also seriously recommend a Gilles Villeneuve movie.

Yes, the Tifosi would rush out for that one just like hot cakes.

Something about sad movies that plays with the heart strings especially with the ladies.


I saw the movie in the states this summer, and it was great. Glad to see the movie is continuing to do so well. My only issue is that the DVD is not for sale in the US region/format. I loved the movie and would like to be able to watch it again on DVD.


If you run VideoLanClient (a free & open source DVD/media player) you can watch any region DVD on your PC, Mac, Notebook, etc.


Finally got see Senna this week, fantastic film, very moving but also a reminder of a great era in F1 and a career that was tragically cut short. Sadly Roland Ratzenberger is the largely forgotten other death that weekend.

It was also a scarey reminder of how exposed the drivers looked in the cars compared to the cars of today. So much came from that fateful weekend to the benefit of F1 safety.

I noticed you in the credits James, out of interest what input did you have?


Some advice, some problem solving and a lot of support.


Interesting who's listed in that section of the credits (Lewis Hamilton in particular), showing how much effort and quality is in the film. Also a few that I'm surprised aren't in there, such as Damon Hill and Rubens Barrichello...

Thanks for your help in it though James.


For those in the US with Netflix, it is available for streaming (finally).


I got given this for Christmas. I sat down to watch it in the middle of the Christmas week while the kids were playing with their new toys.

I am sure I must have got a dud DVD.

The "movie" was actually a voice over commentary by the 3 main people who made the film. It looked like the main film was playing but the sound muted while the producers had their chat.

There were two DVD's in the case. I looked high and low through every single video trying to find the main film but to no avail. I noted on the DVD case that this producer's voiceover commentary was an extra in the DVD, so it does not seem like this is wrong, it is just that my DVD did not have the main movie!

I sent the DVD back to Amazon where my wife got it from for a refund.

Given that just about everyone on this site has raved about this movie, can someone put me straight as to whether or not I possibly got the bad apple in the barrel and whether anyone else had the same problem?


Thanks everyone for all your comments and advice. looks like the general consensus is that I had the wrong audio setting. I was watching it on my TV/DVD, not computer.

Another point is that I am hard of hearing and need subtitles/closed captions switched on to follow a film. But these subtitles were also following the directors' audio commentary. It is not like that the audio was the voice over and the subtitles were following the main film. It is that the subtitles were following the directors talking.

OK, so I will now order another one and have a closer look at the audio and closed caption settings. I have watched hundreds of films on DVD with closed captions on and this is the first time I have had a problem.


Don't feel bad, had to cancel the anticipated night of finally watching Senna on DVD because of the same problem.

As a tech savvy computer and home theatre person I did everything possible within the menu (both commentary boxes resulted in the same director's commentary audio track, neither option turned it off) and I directly manipulated the audio track via remote: Although displaying that track 2/2 was selected, selecting 1/2 reverted instantly back to 2/2 and the director's commentary.

Just in case it was my DVD player, I put the DVD into my computer and repeated the process, and indeed on this particular copy of the DVD, it is not physically possible to watch the film without the director's commentary... which means it isn't possible to watch the film (I consider the audio to be an important part of the experience...).

Strangest disc glitch I've ever encountered to be honest.


Think of it this way: The captions are connected to the audio, NOT the video.

In other words, the captions will, if turned on, display the captions to help you hear the audio, whichever audio stream that may be.

You just need to select the movie without the commentary and if the captions are turned on then you will get the audio from the movie and the captions reflecting that.


I think you had the "directors narration" selected in the DVD options menu. You should have been able to turn this function off by going into the menu settings. Too late given that you have already sent movie back...


Perhaps it was a dud DVD, but still you should have tried to change the audio channels on the remote - the commentary is usually audio channel no.2, and the film audio is no.1. On your copy the channels might have been misplaced. Or maybe, like you said, it was a dud, with only audio channel no.2 available.

Hope I helped.

Unfortunately I didn't get the chance to see the film in a cinema. I live in Serbia, where Senna has a cult following, so the film not being distributed was an unpleasant surprise...

However I got to see it on DVD. Hopefuly an extended edition will see the light of day. The movie did the great man justice, and that's saying a lot.


Sounds like you've somehow selected the 'Bonus Feature commentary with Director and Filmamkers'. I've got the Blu-ray version and to view this bonus feature you have to select the Extras option from the main menu followed this feature in the Extras menu.


If you looked through every single video then I take it you were watching it on a computer.

Try VLC player. Chances are the audio commentary was the audio track playing and not the movie track. You can easily watch dvds with vlc player and then right click, audio and chose which audio track you want.

As for myself, I got the bluray version. Extended... check! HD.... check!

Michael Grievson

Very bizzare. Did you check the audio settings? Sometimes you can watch a movie with the "cast" giving voice overs


you probably had the commentary soundtrack playing instead of the movie soundtrack.

easily changed with the appropriate button on your dvd remote


Sounds like you had the commentary track playing. Many DVD nowadays have multi-audio tracks along side the main soundtrack. There's always a menu to select which track you want.

JackFlash (Aust)

Well knowing something of DVD VOB file structures and menu structures (Ahem!)... I can suggest that it is likely that for whatever reason your DVD/Blu-Ray player probably jumped into the Director's Commentary" option for soundtrack on the main movie, rather than default to primary movie soundtrack English, Italian, French etc.

This happens sometimes with DVD discs, on occsion, relative to a particular DVD palyer and its firmware load.

If you can see the main movie video, then the right audio is ther, because those audio track options are all incorporated within the VOB files with the video itself. It is likely that if you went into Setup Options you could have de-selected "Director's COmmentary" and re-selected "English 5.1", or "English DTS" or similar to get the actual movie audio.

It is also remotely possible you did get a dud disc, but the chances of that in a cloned production run is very very small. JF


Were you listening to the wrong audio track? The main one should be the film soundtrack but there will be alternative audio tracks on the DVD for other languages and/or director's commentary.

I would recommend buying it again and changing the audio track (see DVD player manual) until you hear the correct audio as it is worth it!


Voiceover commentary is an extra that you can turn on and off. You just have to find the setting in the DVD menu to turn it off. Then you can watch the movie normally. Apparently it is on by default in the Senna movie, which is a bit strange.

Alanis Morissette

I can only assume you accidentally changed the audio track to the commentary. It would be extremely odd to have got a duff DVD for which the only duff aspect was that it had only one audio track.

That would be a collector's item, and I'd have kept hold of it!


sounds like you had you audio selected to give the directors' commentary. Think u need to select a different audio setting through your dvd player. Lots of movies have director's and actors commentaries as well being able to have audio in multiple languages


Its obvious that you had set the DVD to the directors commentary - thats all!!! Just need to switch the commentary off! 🙂

PS: Great news on Radio5Live Sir - cant wait 🙂


Good to hear that the movie might get some awards. I was amazed that it wasn't on the Oscar list, as it certainly deserves it. I saw it in a tiny cinema where there were there were several couples where one half was clearly not interested before the movie began, but every single person left chatting enthusiastically about how they had enjoyed the experience. Hopefully the BAFTAS will re-balance things a bit, but if not, the producers must be aware of the positive response from the audiences - I hope that makes up for it a little.


Was pleased to find Senna is now available for instant streaming for Netflix customers in the US.

Great movie!


Like all things a bench mark has been set by "senna".

It is the perfect doco!

Due to the stature of the man and of course the way he left the sport this can never be duplicated or have the impact (no pun intended) that "senna" had.

I can't imagine any other motorsport doco,s making any impression. Senna was a one off never to be repeated we were just lucky enough to have him around for our generation.


I'll have to disagree, I'd look forward to to 'Enzo' or 'Schumacher' with greater anticipation


Being a big Senna fan I actually thought the TT movie 'Closer to the edge' was better.


Yes "Closer to the Edge" deserved wider success I think, it didn't seem to get much recognition outside its niche market in the way the Senna movie did.

If you enjoyed that I'd highly recommend tracking down a copy of the 1970's documentary "The Road Racers."


I had missed the movie when it was screened in UK. Last month I was flying from Dubai to London and the movie was part of their in flight entertainment menu. Watched it right away and I was left quite numb at the end. Now I have my own DVD and I will count it as one of the most valuable assets ! Would be a shame if it does not gets the oscar.


loved it. LOVED IT.

properly fantabulous piece of movie making, and i'm real hard to please.

great that it's doing well, it's thoroughly deserved 😉


I liked the movie in many ways but didn't like the way Prost is unnecessarily made out to be a villain.

I look forward to seeing the DVD which I understand has extended interviews with key people such as Ron Dennis who hardly rates in the movie.

James on another unrelated note - why is this excellent website down so often of late?


It's not. There seem to be access issues from some countries


"There seem to be access issues from some countries" is a big understatement from where I live.

Here in Australia this website is regularly unavailable. It was down for most of Christmas. This problem didn't start near 25 December '11. It had been happening for long periods before then but I had no way of letting you or your blog company know because I couldn't find any contact details via google.


Hi James - I'm an Australian F1 fan that works in the IT industry. I am constantly frustrated with accessing your great website as it appears "down" a LOT.

I believe this issue is a Domain Name System (DNS) problem and is more widespread then you realise.

2 (out of 4) of the DNS servers for jamesallenonf1.com give back errors. This is not good and I think this is the root cause of why people are not able to access the website at times.

Can I suggest you point your IT people at this site which gives more information:


Thanks and keep up the great work.


Thanks for the advice. We've got a team looking at it.


I managed to see the movie in an art-house cinema with my wife in Australia. The movie was is it's final days, and there were just 4 couples in the cinema. My wife hates F1, but was kind enough to come with me since she happened to be in Europe on holidays when Senna died. However, by the closing credits she was totally engrossed in the movie (as were the other 3 ladies). I've since bought the DVD/Blu-Ray edition and lent the DVD to many of my married friends. They, and their wives have all enjoyed the movie. As mentioned, the production of the movie is brilliant: as attested by the fact that non-F1lovers of the fairer sex enjoy it. (Now, if only I can get my wife to watch more than the first 20 mins of Lemans. Not even Steve McQueen appeals to her!)


As much as I liked it I have to say closer to the edge was a better film and I dont even like motorbikes!


I agree Tom T - Closer to the Edge is ...breathtaking, and Im not a bike fan either.


[mod] I don't think the movie's are in 'competition' against one another. They are made for different reasons and are pushing difference points of view and messages.


I saw the film at the cinema when first launched, I went with my son (28 years old - who saw Senna race at Silverstone when very young) & about 8 of his contemporary friends. They were all enthralled & amazed at the film and had many questions for me at the pub afterwards (being a little older). I have since been given & watched the DVD a few times.

One thing I did note, when we left the cinema all the attendees were silent & appeared to be in deep-thought & reflection.

Much of the behind-the-scenes footage and reports were new to me and explained what I had observed a remote F1 fan with just limited television coverage & magazine reports to inform. How times have changed; if Senna had been a driver today all the background speculation & subterfuge would have been all over the web. Youngsters just don't realise how good the wide media coverage is today (the best being you own web-site, of course).

One thing puzzles me James. Do you know why Nigal Mansell did not feature and did not contribute? He is conspicuous by his absence.

P.S. Congratulations on the BBC appointment, I just hope the other slots (TV & Radio) can be filled with similarly skilled, entertaining and knowledgeable broadcasters. Will you still continue to interview the drives in the post-race press conference?


I also got a copy for Christmas. It was an eye-opener to see how intense the rivalry was between Senna and Prost. The coverage clearly showed how talented Senna was but it also left me with the view that he maybe just pushed a little too hard, almost to the extent of reckless. But I guess that you can't be a top racing driver without testing the limits of the car and yourself.


My wife and I just saw it too via Netflix in the US. Very powerful movie. I was surprised at how much film existed from interviews, how honest he seemed with the camera and how much he let interviewers into his thinking. I can't imagine a current driver doing the same.


I must be the odd one out. I bought it on Blu-ray as soon as it came out, and my wife and I watched it the same evening. We are both big F1 fans - Ive been a fan since the early 70's, and had the pleasure of meeting the man himself in 1991 - so we were really looking forward to it.

We were both disappointed that it didn't live up to expectations. We felt there was very little new footage or information (again I will stress Ive followed F1 avidly for 40+ years, so there is little in that period that Ive missed). The only new stuff was family footage of Ayrton on holiday.

Also, the sound for several in car segments was badly matched. I appreciate that perhaps some of the original footage had no sound, or that the sound track was poor quality - but to have instances where you can hear gear changes and Ayrtons hands are both on the steering wheel and clearly not changing gear - (manual gearboxes at the time) is not good.

The portrayal of Alain Prost is too one sided, and this whole relationship is overplayed for dramatic effect.

Overall, Im left with the impression that it is a good documentary - not great, but certainly not bad. Ive kept it in my collection, but I confess to not being in a rush to want to watch again. If you are - like me - a long term F1 fan, you might just find there is little new on offer and that the overall balance of the piece is just a little over-adjusted for dramatic impact.


The first time I watched it I felt the same, however its the first time I've ever been to watch the same film at the cinema twice, and with a packed audience for more atmosphere, and noticing some of the other details it gets better...

I think the main problem, especially for F1 fans like ourselves is that there is too much content, and that to do a film like this it has to be for the mainstream audience who probably know Senna was a great driver that died, but thats all. You could probably make a film just on that Imola weekend, and now that the precedent of an F1 film has been set we'll see more detailed works, such as the Hunt/Lauda film just being of the '76 season.

How did you get to meet him?


It was at Silverstone '91- through a few mutual friends (connected to EJ) I was lucky enough to be invited into the Jordan pit during Saturday qualifying and we got to hang around the pit /paddock afterwards. We literally bumped into Ayrton and Nelson Piquet who were discussing Pirelli tyres. Nelson was running the Pirellis which he was in the process of describing as 'Sh*t' to Ayrton. We got autographs and photos from both, but its fair to say that Nelson was far happier to do so than Ayrton, who pretty quickly shot off and seemed quite preoccupied.

We also got to meet Roberto Moreno who was a very pleasant chap - he let us take some photos inside the Benetton trailer - Ive got one which shows Nelson's and Roberto's race suits hanging up at the back of the trailer which really show how small Roberto is - old 'supersub' is tiny!!


Very cool. Hadn't realised that those two got on with each other near the end. Senna finding out about Pirelli tyres reminds me of Vettel doing the same last Christmas...

Get the pics on Flikr!


I got the Senna dvd for Christmas, and I must confess to being slightly disappointed. It did make me realise where Schumacher learnt to smash others cars to win his early championships though.

Michael Kavanagh

When is the extended version coming out?


Get the bluray special edition


Oscare nominations aren't known until jan 24th.


Or was it released to early and should have been nominated for 2011?

I cant remember exact release date, or precise Oscar rules, but 2012 noms are yet to be named.


Good, its a brilliant film. I got it for christmas and spent the afternoon watching it. Some of the footage and interviews were incredible. My favorite parts had to be the drivers briefings and the arguments with Ballestre. My better half (who hates F1) even watched it and thought it was really good!

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