Editor’s Note: This is the first in a preview series for Tribeca Film Festival, which TFS writer Kristen Coates will be attending. Check it out below and look for more coverage in the coming weeks.
Among the strong film line-up for the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival, one film that seems especially noteworthy is Mika Ronkainen’s documentary Freetime Machos. The film is a comedy about the world’s most northern – and the third lousiest – rugby team, located in northern Finland. The film follows the players as they brag before the games, fail miserably on the field, and recover in the sauna afterwards. Off the field, we see the team members grapple with the realities and trials of every day life, where we realize the importance of rugby in regaining a sense of stoic Northern Finnish manhood.
As they enter a new season, the team faces the challenge of improving their game record, or they will be relegated to a lower division. The British coach Roger, who came to Finland to work for the mobile phone company Nokia, does his best in coaching and motivating the players, but begins to lose all hope as his job comes under threat.
The story also focuses Matti and Mikko, two best friends. Mikko, the driving force behind the Oulu rugby team, begins to have a personal life struggle at home when his wife becomes pregnant and begins working in shifts, leaving Mikko to pick up the slack at home. Matti, who has been dreaming of a drunken rugby summer with his best friend, begins to feel abandoned as Mikko tends to his obligations at home.
Ronkainen has made award-winning and acclaimed documentaries like Screaming Men (selected for Sundance 2004), Our Summer, Car Bonus, Before the Flood, and Father’s Day. Co-founder of Air Guitar World Championships, Ronkainen lives and works in Oulu, northern Finland, in the hometown of the rugby club.
The Tribeca Film Festival takes place from April 21 to May 2 in New York City. For a full list of the sports films showing, click here.