“The Rugby Player” at LGBT Film Festival – New Fest

Alice Hoagland and Mark Bingham are subjects of the documentary "The Rugby Player," at New Fest

Alice Hoagland and Mark Bingham are subjects of the documentary, “The Rugby Player,” at New Fest

New Fest, New York’s premiere LGBT Film Festival, now in its 25th year, will run from September 6 – 11.  The festival will include 15 narrative films, four documentaries and 31 shorts in addition to various special events.  For the second time in its history, New Fest will be run in partnership with the Film Society of Lincoln Center.  Many of the screenings and panel discussions will take place at the Film Society’s Walter Reade Theatre, one of the city’s best movie theatres, in my opinion.  Screenings will also take place at the JCC at 334 Amsterdam Avenue.

As of press time I was able to screen “The Rugby Player,” a moving and life affirming documentary about Mark Bingham, a passenger on United 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11.  Director Scott Gracheff has taken what, in lesser hands, might have been mundane material and has turned it into a compelling story.  What I mean is that Mark Bingham was just a regular person and yet Gracheff makes his story  quite compelling.    

“The Rugby Player” uses Mark Bingham’s personal home video footage inter-cut with interviews of his friends and family to create a portrait of a man who grabbed life with both hands and stood up for others. Mark was also a skilled rugby player, a brutal sport (think football without the pads and helmets). Mark was tough guy who, growing up, had his share of runs ins with the police and ambulance rides.  “Don’t tell my Mom,” was his familiar refrain as he was being taken away for one reason or another.

That Mom is Alice Hoagland.  Alice’s strength, charisma and charm anchors “The Rugby Player.”  Alice speaks of her son with great humor and love.  She recalls her last phone conversation with Mark when he called her from United 93 to say goodbye.  She called him back, leaving a message that he should try to take control of the plane. Undoubtedly Mark was among the group of passengers who fought the terrorists that day.

Alice was a flight attendant for United Airlines.  She expresses her criticism of the lax security measures of United Airlines.  Alice’s resolve to create a positive legacy for her son is shown by her unwavering support for a league of rugby players, who, like Mark, are gay.

“The Rugby Player” takes a national tragedy and very effectively expresses it by telling one man’s story combined with the resolve of those who knew him to carry on and honor his life.

“The Rugby Player” will be shown at New Fest on September 11.

For more information and tickets visit www.newfest.org


About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on September 6, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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