For four years now, Adam Reist has been following women’s rowing at the high school, collegiate, and international levels. The veteran filmmaker has filmed his subjects’ wins, their losses, their countless hours of training. Now, after seeing them cross so many finish lines, Reist will cross his own when his documentary “Dare to Be” debuts later this spring.
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“The biggest surprise was that pretty much nothing that I expected at the beginning happened,” he said, “but the overall theme of the movie is exactly what I wanted it to be.”
Reist was inspired to document women’s rowing after watching his daughter learn the sport and grow both physically and mentally. He sensed that rowing is unique, with some incredible stories to be told. Those stories include female rowers of all levels, from high school novices to women training to qualify for the 2016 Olympics.
An additional storyline in Reist’s film is the history of women’s rowing, which has experienced rapid success since Title IX was passed 45 years ago.
“As the focus became sharper, I saw how important that is to the story that’s being told today,” he said. “I added a history section to the film and talk about Title IX and the evolution of women’s rowing.
“I couldn’t believe that the sport is that young for women,” he added. “Women not much older than I am were enduring some tough stuff in college.” Of course, today the U.S. women have dominated the eight internationally for 11 years running.
Near the end of 2016, Reist wrapped up a director’s cut and began 2017 by polishing the final version. Although he is still in talks with film festivals, he plans to release his documentary through showings at individual boat clubs throughout the spring. He said he hopes people will watch it together and talk about what they take away from it.
“There’s a power to watching things as a group,” he said. “It leads to a way of discussion, a mutual kind of digestion of watching it. Having it in a group setting makes it a little more special.”