Just a few hours ago, the first Austin screening (#SENNAxSW) of the film SENNA, Directed by Asif Kapadia and written by Manish Pandey, premiered here at the SXSW Film Festival. Unfortunately Writer-Executive Producer Manish Pandey was unable to attend the premiere, but thanks to Kerri's diligence and careful negotiations, we were able to help host Asif here in Austin and allow him to unveil his team's work for a very enthusiastic audience.
With a series of confusing lines out front of the Paramount Theater, fans lined up several hours early to see the film. To give a comparison to past events, SENNA is the first SXSW Film screening to sell out advanced tickets in 24 hours (clearly, the buzz about the movie is catching on). Despite these hurdles, the theater opened and the 1200 seat theater began filling up...
SENNA is unlike most documentaries audiences have ever seen. The film focuses on the perspective of F1 driver Ayrton Senna, unveiling his life in motorsports and his fight to be world champion. After combing through 15,000 hours of archives, Asif and Manish obtained enough footage to provide meaningful and informative scenes, largely avoiding "talking heads" to narrate the story and provided Ayrton's voice instead. From his early days in F1, to the McLaren years and finally the uncertain times with Williams, the story of the greatest driver that ever lived is compelling and thrilling. The film's technical quality is superb, and the film sequences in the later years of Senna's career are especially high in detail, conveying the liveliness of Ayrton on screen like you've never seen before.
The film is downright epic in the world of motorsport and it's reputation as an audience favorite, solidified at the recent Sundance Film Festival by the award for Best World Documentary, was clearly seen here today in Austin. A winning combination of tears and celebratory cheers from the audience, this film is truly something to rave about.
Conversations after the showing all centered around one phrase, "loved it," and not a single negative or even neutral comment was heard by Kerri, or anyone else in our entourage. Non-F1 fans, including a friend of ours we brought along for the premiere, whom knew nothing about F1 before this screening, didn't need to in order to understand this message. The film transcends racing and tells a great story of a man and his life struggle with passion.
Given these positive reactions, it's clear that this film will continue to inspire and touch patrons, racing fans or not, for years to come. We know that many of our dedicated fans are hoping to see it soon, and we can tell you that negotiations are in progress to give fans a chance to see SENNA all across America, just no official dates yet.
Following the screening of SENNA, Formula 1 United States hosted a private reception on the terrace at the Long Center for Performing Arts (Gallery Link). Tavo Hellmund and Asif discussed the film and answered some questions from Jeff Hahn, the new PR strategist of F1US. In addition, they brought in a Williams FW33 for guests to get their photo taken by (which we though was a little controversial given the unsettling delicate relationship between Senna fans and the Williams Formula 1 Team), but nevertheless, it was the first F1 car on Austin soil and a great chance to catch a photo of the skyline with a F1 car behind you.
We'll post a more in-depth review of the SENNA film soon, but probably not till after we sit down and talk with Asif some more about the film tomorrow at the Social Media Clubhouse at 01:30 pm CST (see Kerri's instructions on how to watch it here).