DIRECTED BY DAVE CARROLL
PRODUCED BY RYAN SCARFURO
THURSDAY FEB. 20 /GRANADA / 7:00PM
(92min / OR Premiere)
*FILMMAKERS AND SUBJECT IN ATTENDANCE
An intimate documentary exploring the lost art of the oldetime strongman, and one man’s struggle to overcome limitations of body and mind.
On a cold February day, a man walks along Coney Island’s boardwalk. He remembers his last visit here as a boy and can’t help but feel the change in atmosphere. The air is devoid of amusement; stores are locked up tight for winter, rides covered and still. The frigid wind whipping off the Atlantic stings his face and the warm rays of sunlight are as distant as his memories. “It’s going to be a very different place in the summertime…”
Bending Steel is a deeply moving and inspiring documentary from filmmakers Dave Carroll and Ryan Scafuro, exploring the life of 43 year-old Chris Schoeck, a Queens, NY native training to become a professional oldetime strongman. The story follows Chris’ journey from his early days training in his small basement storage unit to his very first performance on the big stage at New York’s historic Coney Island. Alongside his trainer Chris Rider, he meets living legends and heroes within the strongman community. As these characters come alive, a long forgotten time is revisited. The men perform feats that defy limitations of human strength and pain: twisting horseshoes and nails with their bare hands, breaking chains with their hair, and bending coins with their teeth. Chris is learning from the greats. His training is progressing at a remarkable pace… he is determined to become a professional
But as the filmmakers follow Chris through his successes and failures, more is uncovered about this endearing yet introverted character. It soon becomes clear that Chris is not only searching for recognition and acceptance within this community, something he hopes will fill a growing void in his life. He is also facing crippling fears and insecurities, many of which are revealed for the first time as the cameras roll. A remarkable innocence is uncovered. The film bears witness to a tenacious man struggling to come out of his shell – to shed both physical and social limitations that have held him back his entire life – limitations that now threaten his dream of success. What unfolds is a touching story of one man’s epic struggle for acceptance and fulfillment, two things which have always seemed just out of his reach.
Dave Carroll (Director/Associate Producer)
Dave Carroll has spent the majority of his life, either in front of or behind motion picture cameras. At a young age he earned his Screen Actors Guild card and was featured in commercial ads and movies. After taking a rebellious absence from the business, he returned to direct and shoot short films at the School of Visual Arts where he majored in cinematography. Dave has been working professionally ever since as a writer, director and cinematographer. He is the founder of Suspect Films, a production company based in New York City. “Bending Steel” is Dave’s first departure from fiction and his feature length directorial debut.
Ryan Scafuro (Producer/Cinematographer)
Ryan Scafuro is an award winning producer and cinematographer. Before moving from Boston to New York in 2006, he was director of photography for a group of social issue documentaries which won numerous Emmy and Edward R. Murrow awards. Among them are “Just Married” (2004) which explores the epic battle over gay marriage in Massachusetts, and “Hidden Wounds” (2005) a film about soldiers returning from the war in Iraq with Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Since then he has traveled around the world as a photojournalist, cinematographer and filmmaker. He currently resides in Brooklyn, NY and works as a director of photography for a variety of clients. “Bending Steel” is his first feature length film.