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Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein (USA, Special Presentations)

Thursday, April 28, 9:30 p.m.
Winter Garden Theatre (189 Yonge Street)
Friday, April 29, 1:45 p.m.
Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles Street West)
Tuesday, May 3, 3:45 p.m.
Cumberland 2 (159 Cumberland Street)

Rather than tackling the zenith of UFC (that’s Ultimate Fighting Championship, if you’ve been under a pacifist rock), Fightville heads to its lower-budgeted heartland cousin MMA USA, a kind of minor league to UFC’s majors. From a gym beside a Piggly Wiggly in Lafayette, Louisiana, Fightville follows a variety of characters in and around the local fighting circuit, focusing in on promoter Gil “The Thrill” Guillory, philosophy-spouting, cauliflower-eared trainer Tim Credeur, and up-and-coming fighters Albert Stainback and Dustin Poirier. Over a year-and-a-half, the two young fighters grope their way towards professional status, and while Stainback begins to straggle behind, Poirier’s star keeps rising.
Where it would have been easy to use the lens of the camera to either glorify or condemn MMA culture, Fightville does a very deft job of navigating show-don’t-tell territory. Though the film is certainly steeped in sexiness (there are a lot of groping, sweat-covered, fit bodies, after all), the viewer is neither spared the sport’s more gruesome realities nor, more importantly, its more banal. With beautiful shots, high production value, a seamless narrative, and a golden cast of characters, Fightville‘s makers should feel free to do the celebratory arm-hoist: this film is a clear winner.