Review: Cheer Up (Christy Garland, 2016)

Upon first glance, Canadian director Christy Garland’s third documentary, the Arctic Circle-set Cheer Up, might seem to be your traditional portrait of an underdog sports team, in this case a Finnish cheerleading squad that doesn’t want to, uh, finish last in competition yet again. What becomes clear quite quickly, though, is that this isn’t so much a film about competition and success after consistent failure — to paraphrase a song from Disney’s Hercules, the squad doesn’t exactly go from zero to hero over the course of the film. Rather, it’s instead concerned with the intimate stories behind the stunts and tumbles; about why this pursuit is so important for the young girls taking part, and what their devoted coach gets out of the experience…

Full festival review for Vague Visages

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