It was two years ago this month that 40 young women got together in Burnaby to set a world record for playing hockey.
That’s unusual enough, but perhaps the bigger surprise is that a local documentary about the Guiness World Records–certified feat of endurance, Lace Bite, could be so engaging, given the subject material.
Lace Bite got its Vancouver debut last November and has been busy ever since, scooting around North America on the festival circuit to good reviews.
The gruelling game that is the film’s subject—officially 243 hours and five minutes long (10 days!)—was, ostensibly, a fundraiser for cystic fibrosis, and it succeeded admirably in that venture. The players, with the opposing teams both made up of absolute beginners and rec-leaguers, raised a very impressive $165,000 for CF research.
The film—68 minutes long—never loses touch with the sentiment that spawned the project, which was the realization of a promise made by one of the organizers to a friend who died of complications caused by CF, the most common inherited fatal disease in Canada.
But it also, gradually, reveals the camaraderie and sense of shared purpose among the women, qualities that sometimes—as the hours and days drag on and exhaustion gets complicated by dropouts, homesickness, nagging aches, or full-blown serious injuries—become strained.
In the end, though, filmmakers Carmen Klotz and Sharron Bates, through eavesdropping, simple witnessing, a little cajoling, and probably a lot of caffeine and gallows humour, manage to get viewers emotionally invested in the skaters’ goal.
The last 20 minutes produce a few lump-in-the-throat moments, some hearty laughs, and an appreciation of some pretty diverse personalities brought together to fulfill a private vow and participate in a public marathon.
The appearance at the rink of some of the young future beneficiaries of CF research grounds the doc in sober reality and injects a note of hope.
And even though this is all about an epic hockey game, you never once—not once—think that there’s something missing because no men are involved on the ice.
Go, watch, enjoy, cry. Want to know what the title (which sounds vaguely girlish) means? Buy a ticket or maybe look to see if some of the players show up at the Girls on Film party at the Cobalt after the screening later that night.
And the final score? Don’t ask.
Lace Bite screens as part of the Vancouver Queer Film Festival at SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts on Saturday (August 17) at 7 p.m.