• USA
  • 96
  • STC
  • Edet Belzberg

In the United States, 60,000 young women vie for five coveted spots on the Olympic gymnastics team. In the run-up to the 2000 Summer Games, three hopefuls set their sights on Sydney. Each is an impressive candidate, yet they are very different athletes. Alyssa Beckerman, 18, is surely Americas next sweetheart - talented, outgoing, with a blonde ponytail and winning smile, her only obstacle is ADD, a learning disability that interrupts her concentration. The pensive and reserved Kristen Maloney, 18, however, is the superior athlete, the returning national champion. Morgan White, 15, lacks the experience of the others, but is relentless in her training, the paramount quality of champions. Shot over four years, Gymnast exposes the real trials of elite female athletes. The more obvious physical punishment is presented in its severity, but director Edet Belzberg goes further to expertly reveal the politics of coaching in its most manipulative moments. But its the mental game, the most challenging element to represent visually, that Gymnast so adeptly captures to distinguish the film and its athletes as champions. Myrocia Watamaniuk

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