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Coalville Gold documentary review

Directed by Ross Bolidai Starring Stevie Gold Short Documentary Film Review by Evie Brudenall

Film has never shied away from depicting the sport of boxing (now there’s an understatement), and this passion and penchant for such storytelling has now bled into documentary with Coalville Gold.

Coalville Gold follows Stevie Gold, a reformed criminal seeking absolution and positive recognition through bare – knuckle boxing. However, after breaking his hand, splitting up with his long-term girlfriend, and having to face a seasoned and more experienced fighter in his upcoming match, Stevie must challenge the support of his family and his perseverance to lead him to victory.

Whilst the film may only be thirty minutes long, within the first three we witness extreme peaks and troughs in Stevie’s boxing career and personal life. Stevie has won his bare – knuckle boxing match. The crowd roars for his success. He calls his girlfriend to inform her of his victory and they effusively declare their love for one another; Steve is on top of the world. However, a short jump in time reveals that Stevie has suffered an injury and his girlfriend has since ended their relationship. In the events of the film’s first three minutes, our subject is already presented with conflict, resulting in the narrative feeling very fictional as it adheres to the classic three-act structure. The film also boasts fictional tones as it subverts the atypical non-fiction form: documentaries often account and give an insight into a subject’s past and personal history, whereas Coalville Gold is very much Stevie’s present.

The cinematography and aesthetic decision also appeared as if they belonged in a fiction film, and I initially began to question whether Coalville Gold was indeed a documentary. Through the use of slow-motion to capture the most visceral of punches that are certain to make any audience wince, innovative placement of the camera and stunning shooting of the most unglamorous of locations, director Ross Balidai unites the perfect blend of truth and beauty to create images truly cinematic.

As an audience, we are conditioned to empathise with Stevie as we root for his success in potentially his career’s most crucial fight. We learn that following a three-year stint in prison after several violent altercations, bare – knuckle fighting has become Stevie’s refuge. Ironically, an act that once used to cause our principal focus trouble and grievance has been honed into a skill as a means to pacify his aggression and past criminal behaviour. In spite of the fighting demeanour, Stevie is a sensitive soul as he explains how he is still hurting after his father’s infidelity and his need for reassurance from his (ex) girlfriend signals a youthful innocence – but also indicates that there is a lot of personal and professional growth to achieve.

Deftly crafted and shaped by Bolidai, Coalville Gold will have you marvelling at its technical accomplishments and engaged in Stevie’s quest for triumphs and redemption.

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