“I’m not planning on going to the after party because I’m leaving everything I have on the track”
Leave it on the Track is a new roller derby documentary directed by Benjamin Pascoe and tells the story of the love/hate relationship between the Cherrybombs and Hellcats, two intraleague treams from the TXRD Lonestar Rollergirls as they compete for the Calvello Cup (named after legendary rollergirl Anne Calvello).
The undefeated Cherrybombs won the last game by one point, so the Hellcats are ready for blood. They want to win and they want it bad.
Having seen some episodes of the tv show Rollergirls, which featured the TXRD Lonestar Rollergirls, I knew what to expect from this documentary; the thrills and spills of banked track derby.
It’s derby but not as we know it.
The form of banked track roller derby these women play is brutal. Punching and elbowing is encouraged and while no doubt entertaining, bears little resemblance to the flat track roller derby we’re used to here in the UK.
The film Whip It is mentioned as some TXRD Lonestar Rollergirls skated in the film and while they loved Whip It for it’s realism, over here in the UK it was a different story. The roller derby shown in Whip It is nothing like the sport we play here in the UK and so many skaters distanced themselves from it.
It’s worth noting that the violence on track in the film is not without its consequences. We see two serious injuries which could have ended derby careers but these women heal then get right back on their skates. A testament to just how much this sport means to them.
It’s also around this time that the issue of insurance is brought up. One of the injured skaters has no insurance, something that perhaps could have been addressed in the film as part of the bigger picture of roller derby in America.
As the skater is carried out of the venue to the ambulance (one of the best scenes in the film as Cherry Chainsaw throws the horns to the crowd to let them know she’s ok) the audience are already donating money for her treatment.
At times these women are hilarious however I can imagine people struggling to relate to them. We’re shown the big personalities, the alter-egos but you don’t really get to see what these women are really like when they’re not on the track. I’d like more of a backstory with these women, what their day jobs are, how they balance life, work and derby, what their hopes for the sport are..
The roller derby community is so diverse but these women can come across as cookie cutter ‘bad ass rollergirls’ and not much else.
That being said these women are tough and entertainment side of things seems to get all the attention, what should be applauded and noted is the skill and athleticism these women have mastered.
While the differences between flat track and banked may be vast, what is the same is the camaraderie, the friendships and sense of family these women have towards their teammates. They are so proud of their fellow skaters, all very aware of much hard work and effort the women put into this sport. The kill or be killed attitude disappears when the final whistle is blown and they all come together to celebrate/ commiserate with each other at the after party. Proving that derby blood is thicker than water.
Leave it on the track will be shown at the Edinburgh International Film Festival later this month.
You can watch the trailer here: