Synopsis: Derby Kings is a 2012 short film written and directed by Valerie Bischoff, produced by Mayuran Tiruchelvam, starring Tatanka Means (Tiger Eyes, Sedona) and Jerry Wolf (Four Winds). The film follows Jim Sundell (Tatanka Means) as he struggles to make sure his younger brother Ace (Jerry Wolf) appears at an impending trial. Ace, a demolition derby diehard, has other plans. With the local demolition derby looming, Ace makes a bold move that forces Jim to step far outside of his comfort zone. Derby Kings gives audiences insight into the struggles two Native American brothers face and explores how the ritual of the derby reinforces strained family bonds.
For more information and to view the trailer please visit: http://www.derbykingsmovie.com/
After witnessing my first demolition derby at the Nevada State Fair in 2009, I instantly became fascinated by this bizarre American ritual. As I watched the brutal spectacle of crashing cars, multicolored smoke, and a roaring crowd of colorful characters, I was seduced by the inherent drama that was unfolding before my eyes and became obsessed with the idea of creating a film set in this world. Before I could start writing a script I had to understand the motivations of these drivers. Who would partake in this strange ritual and why? Wanting to fully immerse myself, I started making a small-scale documentary on the subject.
My background is in television news and documentary filmmaking. Incorporating these skills into my approach as a narrative director has been crucial. The work I have done within the community has given me an opportunity build relationships and understand the true motivations of the drivers. In rural and impoverished areas of Nevada where unemployment has risen to 12%, the highest in the nation, the derby serves as a crucial family ritual, reinforcing bonds that are strained by bleak external factors including a poor economy, lack of education, and high crime rates. This is especially true in American Indian communities where broken treaties and a lack of resources have further broken the family unit. There can be no future without the strength of the family. Derby Kings will give audiences insight into the struggles these two American Indian brothers face and how the love of participating in the demolition derby is their first step towards reconciliation despite overwhelming external factors.
The brother’s ability to mend broken relationships in the face of hardship will undoubtedly inspire others. I want audiences to connect with their struggle and ultimately gain an understanding of how ingenuity and pride can sometimes trump the most difficult of circumstances.