(FORT MONMOUTH, NJ) -- Queens of Pain will have its New Jersey premiere at the Indie Street Film Festival on Friday, September 10, 2021 at 8:00pm at the Fort Monmouth Drive-in. One of the most successful teams in New York sports history, Gotham Girls Roller Derby is a feminist powerhouse of elite athletes, misfits, and renegades. The film follows three women — Suzy Hotrod, Evilicious, and Captain Smack Sparrow — as they fight to balance life in New York City with the work needed to keep their spots on the world’s best roller derby team.
The team's Jersey connections are strong: Co-director Cassie Hay skated for Garden State Rollergirls in Newark for a time, competing at Asbury Park and spending time in Wildwood. Hay lived in New Jersey for 8 years, while co-director Amy Winston has family just down the road in Holmdel, NJ. One of the film's lead subjects, Suzy Hotrod, is originally a South Jersey girl.
"We are so excited to bring Queens of Pain to the Indie Street Film Festival," said Wilson. "The organizers of Indie Street believe strongly in connecting people through the arts, and I don't think there's ever been a more critical time to create community by sharing stories of resilience and hope, like ours."
Suzy Hotrod, one of the world’s most renowned roller derby stars, is a Catholic school girl turned punk rocker who has graced the pages of Sports Illustrated and ESPN. In her 15th season, Suzy continues to compete at an elite level against women half her age while confronting the sacrifices she’s made to play and the legacy she’ll leave behind.
Evilicious struggles to get back on skates and pass a skills test after a surprise pregnancy and challenging C-section. Determined, Eva tries to navigate a grueling practice schedule, fast-paced career, and raising a newborn. She wants to retire on her own terms after her 15th season, but can she make it through this one?
New to the sport, newly engaged, and testing a new body after major weight-loss surgery, rookie Captain Smack Sparrow dives into the world of roller derby to challenge her body, build confidence, and gain acceptance into the tribe. When she loses her job shortly before her wedding, everything she’s worked for hangs in the balance.
Director Cassie Hay skated with Gotham Roller Derby from 2006 to 2011. As a writer and documentary filmmaker, Hay had always wanted to tell the story of these athletes in a way not normally seen by audiences: from a woman’s — and former player’s — perspective.
In 2017, with the rise of the #MeToo movement, directors Hay and Winston began having more discussions about the myriad of obstacles women face in order to pursue their passions — an issue important to them and at the heart of this story.
After assembling a talented team and raising $32,910 through a successful Kickstarter campaign, Queens Of Pain was filmed over several sleep-deprived weekends in NYC with the team traveling in from San Francisco and Austin.
Since filming, Hay and Winston pitched, secured, and hosted the panel “SIDELINED: Women’s Sports in Mass Media” at SXSW 2019. Queens Of Pain premiered at the Austin Film Festival and has shown at the Sheffield International Film Festival, Oxford Film Festival, Brooklyn Film Festival, and Big Bear Film Summit.
The Indie Street Film Festival will also be offering screenings online from September 13-September 19. Click here to rent the film.
Co-director, Cassie Hay is a former Gotham Girls skater and documentary director whose feature debut film The Liberators screened at SXSW and was distributed worldwide. Her scope of film work includes major film productions (The Wolf of Wall Street, For Colored Girls) television (The Leftovers, Bored to Death, Law & Order), commercials, and more. Most recently her work was shown at the Museum of the Moving Image.
Co-director, Amy Winston is a freelance writer and marketing consultant. With a background in creative writing, content production, and strategy, she has spent the last decade creating marketing and advertising campaigns on behalf of Fortune 500 companies and the world’s largest brands, including Samsung, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, Intel, and Google.
The sport of roller derby, played on a banked track, was first conceived in the 1930s and was popular in the US until the 1970s. In the early 2000s, modern women’s roller derby got its start in Austin, Texas. Starting with the Texas Rollergirls, flat track roller derby leagues began forming as businesses run by the athletes themselves. This iteration of the sport spread like wildfire in subsequent years, as the ability to play on a skating rink floor or other venue, rather than building and storing a large banked track, made it possible to play the game just about anywhere.
While the original version of the sport became more of a spectacle with fights and staged theatrics, today’s roller derby is a legitimate sport played by true athletes.
Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) — the international governing body of women’s flat track roller derby — represents more than 450 member leagues on 6 continents.