“Rugby has only cinematographic qualities“, assures Eric Hannezo, co-director of The stadium, a black and white documentary, immersed in the heart of the Toulouse Stadium, reigning French and European champion. This film, in theaters on Wednesday April 13, is one of the rare incursions of rugby in dark rooms.
It was supposed to be a sports documentary series in the spirit of those currently hitting streaming platforms, such as drive to survive from Netflix on the world of Formula 1. But the historic 2020-2021 season of Toulouse rugby players, authors of the European Cup – championship double, prompted the production team to try the cinema experience instead.
“Things sort of imposed themselves“, says Eric Hannezo, co-director of the feature film with Matthieu Vollaire. “Since they accomplished something exceptional, we tried to work on an exceptional goal: to go to theaters“.”I am convinced that sport must and will meet the cinema“, adds the leader of the production company Black Dynamite.
This film shows the human adventure of the rugby players of the Toulouse stadium who, “despite tenacious adversaries, despite injuries (…) throw themselves headlong into the arena to win their fifth European champion star and thus become the most successful European club in history“, sums up the synopsis.
The documentary, which follows the team for seven months of competition, from December 2020 to June 2021, takes the viewer into the club’s sacrosanct locker room, a space usually hidden from view. We follow in particular “the coach’s pre-match speeches with this incredible atmosphere of concentration, tension and communion with the players and the staff“, explains Eric Hannezo who made “as discreet as possible so as not to miss anything, and above all not to distort anything“.
Its combative dimension, its values and its dramaturgy seem to make rugby a good support for the seventh art. Relatively few films have been devoted to him.
The famous Invictus by Clint Eastwood on South Africa’s victory in the 1995 World Cup, erected as a symbol of reconciliation after apartheid, the old comedy Go France! (1964) on supporters of the Blues traveling to England for the Five Nations Tournament… In their work Sport and CinemaJulien and Gérard Camy (son and father) have identified about thirty of them, rugby league included (The price of a man especially in 1963).
“The United States, the biggest purveyor of sports films, is not a country of rugby“, advances Julien Camy. “The sports that have been filmed the most are those widely practiced in the United States, such as American football, baseball or boxing“.”Commercially, sports films do not work very well in France“, he adds, pointing”a certain reluctance“and a certain”snobbery“among French producers vis-à-vis sport.