Hot chicks! Cool nicknames! Broken bones! Director Bob Ray spent five years documenting a fledgling, all-female roller derby league in Austin, Texas, and the result is Hell on Wheels, an energetic, snappy flick that's both entertaining and informative. Our friends at SnagFilms have made it available for free online viewing.
Dan Policarpo (AKA Roller Derby Dan) birthed the idea of a 21st Century version of roller derby, whose initial popularity peaked decades ago. Women readily responded, and Policarpo picked four that he felt would be good team captains: Heather, Anya, Nancy, and April. After he exited, the four decided to forge ahead with plans for a league, forming Bad Girl Good Woman Productions, even though they had no business experience. After two years of struggle, the first bout is held in front of 350 fans. Soon after that, the four decide to incorporate, which provokes a heated response from the players, who felt that they should have a voice in the business. Eventually things come to a head, a new league is formed (Texas Rollergirls) and emotions become heated.
"You not only get to follow women struggling with the world of business, you get to watch some kickass roller derby," wrote Jette Kernion in her review when the film debuted at SXSW in 2007. "Hell on Wheels follows all sides of the league controversies and offers us glimpses into the lives of the women involved."
After the jump: Watch Hell on Wheels!