Posted Date: Thursday, October 3, 2013
The calibre of films at EIFF keep getting better and better each festival. And every year, one film stands out for me. One film that really sticks with me long after I leave the theatre. This year, that movie is, without a doubt, “The Good Son.”
Playing this Friday at 7:00 at EIFF13, the Canadian premier of “The Good Son” is one documentary you do not want to miss. It follows the life of World Lightweight Boxing Champion Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini -- from growing up in Youngstown, Ohio to becoming a world-class athlete and sports figure. The film centres on Mancini’s fight with Korean boxer Deuk-Koo Kim that ended with tragic results, and how Mancini’s fight carried on well after the match ended.
EIFF regulars will recognize a familiar face at the screening of “The Good Son” on Friday. The film is directed by Jesse James Miller, who won last year’s EIFF Jury Prize for his film “Becoming Redwood.” And joining Jesse at our special event? Well, it’s Mr. Boom Boom himself.
Jesse remembers watching the Mancini-Kim fight when he was only 12. He wanted to tell the story of Mancini to present the legend as the man he is. And to hopefully help put an issue that still comes up in the boxing world to rest after three decades.
“I just think that nobody really let go of the Deuk-Koo Kim fight except for Ray,” explained Jesse. “The press or the public continue to ask thirty years later and it's important for Ray that people stop asking him about it and move on. He's a person just like you and me. He has a family, and people need to respect that. This film helps in that effort.”
When it comes to humanizing a boxing icon, the film doesn’t disappoint. We get to see the home Mancini was raised in, and personally hear from close family and friends. And those that know him -- both old friends and people who worked on the film -- say he is a champion inside the ring and out. A true gentleman.
But according to Jesse, telling Mancini’s story did have some bumps along the way. Jesse worked closely with writer Mark Kriegel. Jesse working on the documentary while Kriegel worked on the novel “The Good Son: The Life of Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini.” As we all know, the dynamics of a novel and documentary are very different.
“It was a great research tool, but in the end I'm making a film with real live people who speak there minds when asked a question,” said Jesse. They’re human. So keeping a healthy balance between the book and film was very difficult.”
Difficult, but executed. The on-screen interviews (even with some recognizable faces like Ed O’Neill, Mickey Rourke and Sugar Ray) take us deeper and deeper into the life of Boom Boom.
With such honoured guest like Ray Mancini, you know EIFF had to plan an event to remember. On Friday at 6 p.m., Mancini will be signing copies of his biography, written by Kriegel. The signing was made possible by Edmonton’s Nonfiction Festival, LitFest, and Audrey’s Books. Then at 7 p.m., we will be screening the documentary with a Q&A with Mancini and Jesse to follow. After that, the audience is invited to join our special guests at the after-party at Latitude 53.
The “The Good Son” having it’s Canadian premier right here in Edmonton just makes sense as well. That’s because the film’s co-producer, Adam Scorgie, grew up in the City of Champs. When this project came across his desk, he said he was fortunate enough to get involved and worked along side Jesse to complete the film.
And for Adam, Edmonton couldn’t be a better place to showcase “The Good Son.”
“I couldn't be more excited,” said Adam. “I grew up in Edmonton as a kid and I have a lot of great family and friends that I’m looking forward to sharing this experience with. And to have Ray host and present the film in Edmonton is something really special.”
Besides the raving reviews for “The Good Son,” both Adam and Jesse said the film will move you from start to end, and even afterwards with Mancini speaking. The Q&As are not to be missed, Jesse explained. He said that of all the screenings he has done with Mancini, not one single person has left the Q&A early. The entire crowd is often touched when this humble, well-spoken and kind-hearted man takes the mic.
Tickets for Friday’s event are still available but going fast. For only $20, you’ll get to check out the film, hear the Q&A and get access to the Latitude 53 after-party. Whether you are a fan of sports, documentaries or just a fan of movies, this is one event at EIFF13 that cannot be missed!