Minnesota Mean is an independent documentary that focuses on the lives of the Minnesota Roller Girls All Stars, directed by Dawn Mikkelson. Minnesota Mean offers a front row seat to the world of roller derby, and a backstage pass taking us through the lives of the members of the team, highlighting their triumphs and struggles.
Something I admire about Mikkelson’s style of directing is how she captures her subjects. She beautifully showcases the strengths and vulnerabilities of the athletes, both on and off of the track. Mikkelson shows us the girls’ character development, portraying each team member as a unique individual with a rich backstory. For example, we are introduced to Amy St. Clair, also known as “Smoka Hontas”, a member of the roller derby team who works with pregnant and new mothers who are a part of her Native American community that have or are struggling with substance abuse. We are also introduced to Kimberly Foster, also known as “Shiver me Kimbers”. Foster opens up to the audience about the positive impact that roller derby has had on her health, her miscarriages, and her journey with becoming pregnant. Minnesota Mean shows us that roller derby is more than just a sport, it’s a vehicle for personal growth, helping these women to defy conventions, gender roles and expectations.
What truly sets Minnesota Mean apart from other sports documentaries is how Mikkelson’s cinematography skillfully captures the raw emotions, camaraderie, and vulnerability of the roller derby. In using interviews, close up shots, slow motion, and a soundtrack featuring a mix of punk rock and empowering anthems, she weaves together a feminist masterpiece.
Minnesota Mean is a remarkable and empowering documentary celebrating the strength, determination, and sisterhood of a women’s roller derby team. In showing us the unbreakable bonds forged by the Minnesota Roller Girls, Mikkelson brings a much-needed female perspective to the world of sports, redefining what it means to be an athlete.