04th Aug2023

‘Woolf Women – Now or Never’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Featuring: Jenny Jungle, Lisa Peters, Anna Pixner, Ale Salamandra, Jasmijn Hanegraf | Written and Directed by Marchella De Angelis, Jennifer Schauerte

I’m not embarrassed to say that I will watch almost any documentary. I have realised that the subject doesn’t really matter if the film is made well. It absolutely does not matter what the documentary is about for me to enjoy it. That said, travel interests me a great deal and I love seeing different parts of the world that I have both seen and not seen. On top of that, I grew up as a teenager, watching the CKY skate videos (yes, VHS tapes) and various other skateboard-themed ‘documentaries. So Woolf Women – Now or Never has a couple of things on its side before I have even started it.

The documentary does plenty of things well in regard to the two things I have mentioned. It covers a group of five female skateboarders who travel through several different countries to reach Sumela – an ancient monastery perched high in the Pontic Mountains of Turkey. The scenery, throughout each country and the way it is shot is stunning. It is often the backdrop to the group skateboarding and that works well. You never focus on one thing or the other too much. It shows just the right balance of beautiful views and exciting skateboarding. This isn’t the same kind of skateboarding as is seen in the aforementioned videos though. This is a much more dangerous (at least it looks much more dangerous) downhill skateboarding. These women are skating down the edges of long and steep mountains.

I wouldn’t say it was a fault of the filmmakers but a s very small issue I had with the documentary was that I didn’t quite feel the speed and the danger that is obviously a part of this sport. There are accidents, and we do get to see footage of some very serious incidents – although the camera, rightfully, is stopped before we see any gruesome part of the accidents. It feels wrong to say that the filmmakers ‘lucked’ into a story because the journey is interesting enough on its own but when one of the skaters gets seriously hurt and you wonder whether she will ever skate again, it adds something extra to the film.

Maybe because they didn’t want to focus on this, it almost feels like this part of the movie is glossed over a little. Like they didn’t want to dwell on it and they wanted to focus back on the trip. I can understand why but for me there was more interest in that part of the story and what drives the people to do what they do despite the risks involved. One other minor complaint is that the narration often felt quite flat and computer-like. Not really adding much to the documentary.

The five women though are a super-likeable group of people and it’s really enjoyable watching their ups and occasional downs, as they focus on enjoying their lives and doing what they can to make the world a better place. It’s always nice to watch a documentary that focuses on the positives in life and Woolf Women – Now or Never is undoubtedly that. This is a happy, occasionally inspiring, and easy-to-watch documentary.

*** 3/5

Woolf Women – Now or Never is streaming now on Newyonder .

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