“Boys can dance, boys can cheer, boys can do whatever they want” — Ian, coach.
In 2009, Dazl Diamonds became the first all boy team in the UK Cheerleading Championships. The following year, they came not just to participate but to compete. The film follows them in the months leading up to the championship.
The team is an underdog in a sport dominated by girls. At the beginning of the film, one boy describes being called a fag and a poof for cheering but the film does not delve into sexual politics. It focuses on boys doing what they want to do in the context of their everyday lives. In one of the funniest parts, the boys are taught the “facials” that are an integral part of the cheerleading performance; they work their way through winks, pouts, surprise looks and mad looks. Ian, their indomitable coach, is also their counsellor and life coach and he combines tough love with a fierce optimism.
The team is composed of boys ranging in age from 9 to 13 from a working class neighbourhood in South Leeds. Many are from single parent households and some have troubled backgrounds. They include school troublemaker Elliott and self-described victim Josh but it is Harvey who embodies the spirit of the film. He is a scrappy 9 year old who identifies with Billy Elliot and wants to be a dancer when he grows up. Harvey is sweet and tough and he believes in infinite possibilities.
The boys have an exuberant energy and, despite their backgrounds, an innocently hopeful outlook that draws you into their world. At the end, I was whooping and clapping through their competition routine and believing that anything could happen.
Director: James Newton
Program: International Spectrum
Friday, April 29, 9:00 pm, Cumberland 2
Sunday, May 1, 4:30 pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 3
Sunday, May 8, 6:45 pm, Isabel Bader Theatre
Trailer > http://vimeo.com/17367789
Written by Pauline Dong
A native Torontonian, Pauline enjoys much that the city has to offer, especially in the areas of food and drink. She is also an enthusiastic traveller and explorer of other cultures. A self-described film geek, her interest in movies was first piqued by the early works of Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino and Wong Kar-Wai. More a fan than a critic, she invites your thoughts on the films in her articles.