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'Villeneuve Pironi' director on how Formula 1 doctors tell 'a tale of two families, not just two men'

for Villeneuve Pironi Director Torquil Jones , to capture Story Sports Legends and those living on the fringes are standard practice.

For the past five years, the filmmaker has been telling the story of Nepalese climber Nirmal Purja’s quest to conquer World 8, 14- Mifeng in seven months (14 Pinnacle: Nothing is Impossible); the world’s No. 1 by Australian comedian Adam Hills A Para rugby league team (Take His Legs); and the life and legacy of the late British football manager Sir Bobby Robson ( Bobby Robson : Not just the manager ).

But despite the obvious similarities to his latest docs – their focus on sports, legacy and one man’s struggle to reach previously unattainable heights – —Jones’ inside look at Formula 1 legends Didier Pironi and Gilles Villeneuve, whose fast-paced lives and fast-paced endings are different.

This was partly due to the doctor’s double focus on two players during the most dangerous years of the international sport, once friends and teammates became rivals. This is also due to the fact that the eerie coincidence and fairly rapid sequence of events that led to their deaths were largely televised to the public. This opens the door for Jones to go beyond the standard narrative of those shocking pivotal events, and instead offer a more human story in a story that goes beyond the headlines, about someone who loves and respects both.

This is a movie that rather explicitly avoids the use of vs in its title, and instead provides an insight into how the life (and death) of two men became Check in and change their sport – and their families – forever.

Ahead of its world premiere on Saturday in New York City , Hollywood The Report spoke with Jones about what makes Formula 1 so unique and mature to accommodate that kind of rivalry among teammates, how he’s upending the sports documentary genre by changing who’s voice, exploring their legacy , and the story of Villeneuve and Pironi ended up on the cutting room floor.

Is this story and Formula 1 culture really appealing to you and making it a little different from documenting other sports cultures?

First of all, I’m not a Formula 1 fan. I don’t watch every game every week. I discovered this story five or six years ago, but I can’t believe it wasn’t told as a documentary because it was a Human drama, motorsport for me is a secondary element to a story about relationships, legacy, trust, betrayal and individuality. As I researched the project more and talked to the contributors, I think what I was really thinking about was the exact same thing that underpinned their relationship during that very brief but very violent period. It’s this culture. They just want to be on the edge all the time, whether it’s in a race car, a helicopter or a speedboat. There were a lot of stories that didn’t end up in a movie due to time constraints – too many details. But there are many stories, usually from wives, girlfriends, family, loved ones, who have been living on the edge.

Even with their family around; even though they are in the car with their family, they are still on the highway at an hourly rate 40 miles. It has an adrenaline-intoxicating feel to it, that delicate balance between life and death. For me, that was the fascinating thing, the culture of Formula 1 at the time – every year for these five or six years, drivers were dying, it was too dangerous. But what really brought the two together was a passion for the sport and a passion for living on the edge. Their friendship is built on a daily sense of competition. They are always competing with each other. There is this sense of immortality that no other sport has. You wouldn’t get it from football, American football or baseball, and in Formula 1 at the time, the stakes were so high.

There’s an element of their relationship and Formula 1 culture that’s very interesting, and it’s the unspoken rules of a half-way race , whoever leads the team will stay ahead. In this way, Formula 1 is both an individual sport and a team sport, but it’s a difficult way for competitors who value honour and desire to be number one. How did you think about this tension thematically when telling their story, and how does it make their story different from that of another sport?

This is the charm of a sport to me. You have two drivers in a team and the team is defining what those rules are – the Ferrari rules that many say are in place when you’re first and second, you don’t play against each other because of the fear of two Car crashes are too high. From that perspective, it’s a team sport. But there are many situations in Formula 1 where the number two driver ignores these requirements, so they go up against the number one driver. I think the problem with Formula 1 is that the drivers start very young and they’ve been at the top of their field for most of their careers – they’re the best Canadian drivers, the best French drivers or the best The best American privateer. They were number one, and then they got to this very high elite level, there are only 20 drivers in the whole world, so then got to you being told you It’s that level of second and not first, and I don’t think it’s possible for them to let go. That’s what I found particularly interesting about the ’82 contest.

But the bigger honor theme is always fascinating. So the way I structure the film is that the first act interweaves the backstories of Didier Pironi and Gilles Villeneuve to really try to build that sense of competition they both have, and at the same time, especially Giles, and that sense of honor, camaraderie and presence as a team player with his former teammates at Ferrari. And then the second act is really this series of extraordinary events one after another, inseparable. For me, Act Three is actually an exploration of the legacy of those decisions, especially with family and loved ones. I guess really, that’s how those momentary decisions made in that ’82 season produced these for the next

Influence to this day, whether it’s a daughter who grew up without a father, or a son whose father was portrayed as a villain over the years. That sense of honor is the foundation of the story, really.

You use two racers to talk about their careers and philosophies, but neither of your topics are here Speak for yourself. This means that others are tasked with being the arbiters of their lives and legacy. It raises interesting questions about honesty, truth, prejudice. How did you deal with these things in these storytelling conditions?

For me, the most important thing is that if this is a film about Didier Pironi , or a documentary about Gilles Villeneuve, I think that question is a big challenge for how you portray that person. I think stories like this – they have very opposing views on what’s going on in the story, families – are very challenging, but also a blessing in a way because you have to be somewhere in the middle a place to land. You have to tell both sides of the story from the perspective of two families and the perspective of two men. When we did an archive search at the beginning of the process, we found interviews with these two men that we use throughout the film to convey their immediate point of view, but when they did these interviews, they were talking to journalists Conversation or sports reporter. How honest is this? They don’t get caught off guard by talking to someone who knows them well.

F1 is a real, male-dominated sport of masculinity, so I would very much like the main narrator of the story to be a woman. They are fundamentally closest to men, and the women in the film use a different language than most sports documentaries. They don’t talk about the specifics of the sport. It’s about the emotional connection with men and the human side of the story. I really think the first minute of the movie is Joanne Belknap saying, for me, the story is about betrayal, and then you have Kathryn Gookes saying, the story is really complicated . I really don’t want it to be a one-dimensional story. I wanted to lay it out from the beginning, tell the story from a female-led perspective, and from the beginning, it was really complicated. These people have their strengths, they have their weaknesses, and both have their weaknesses. But we’re going to try to portray them as these 3D characters in the hope that even if the audience isn’t interested in Formula 1, they’ll relate to it.

Another thing that’s particularly interesting about the document is how many stories are available online because a lot of it is captured in real-time by sports news outlets. Can you talk about your process for acquiring visible and invisible footage?

I have a team of four archival producers – one in Italy, one in the UK, One in the UK and one in the US – we searched for a year to see if we could tell the story. There are a lot of unseen archives in the movie. I won’t go into the details, but there are various sources where we found that film was flushed onto a can, they were digitized for the first time, or someone discovered x, y, and z. There are a lot of shots that people wouldn’t have seen before. But when you put stories in chronological order, there are inevitably black holes, especially around accidents and accident viewpoints. I was very vigilant, for example, you can see it on YouTube when Gilles had a fatal accident. But it’s shot from an angle, it’s a wide-angle shot, it’s the last five seconds, so how do we build a meaningful sequence around it? One that really makes you feel like you’re in the cockpit with him, you’re going through that drama he’s feeling, how was he torn apart by what happened to him the previous few weeks? For me, it was a combination of archive shots, and then we did a lot of abstract viewpoint reconstruction shots to go with that shot. We shot specific car rigs to get that sense of speed and limit, which is very important. Because this story is 40 years old and a lot of the lenses that exist are wide angle lenses, you don’t really understand how they go fast .

Can you talk about the other part of telling the audience that they are on YouTube with loved ones, Ferrari employees and other racers A crash or something you can’t see in a post-race interview clip? Did someone say no?

No one we spoke to said no, but it took us four years to get these two The family agreed to be part of the project. This is obviously our main challenge. You can only tell this story one way, and that is we need to involve both families and everyone needs to talk about it. Talk about some areas where they’re going to be very uncomfortable, periods where they’re still going to be very emotional — that’s raw — but they have to talk about all of them. As filmmakers, all editorial control is in our hands, so there is no involvement in that sense. So for me, it’s about getting those people who are closest to two men — family, girlfriends, friends — and then we have to have some Ferrari people from different levels from that year onwards. We have technical directors, engineers, mechanics. Then it’s about who can provide broader context around the story. That’s where we get world champions like Alan Prost and Sir Jackie Stewart, and those very well-known drivers around them n the right to really contextualize the content of the sport at the time. Because it was a unique moment in the history of the sport. For me, bringing all these elements together is the only way we can get it right.

There are a lot of tonal changes in this document, but the biggest change seems to happen halfway through when friendship turns to rivalry and Gilles died. It also poses challenges because now a story about two men seems to be just a story about one man. How does losing a theme make you think about the story you’re telling and its pacing?

When I was researching this story, I couldn’t believe these things happened. Following Gilles Villeneuve’s death, the race was held in Canada and the track has been renamed Gilles Villeneuve Circuit. Didier Pironi said he wanted to dedicate the victory to Gilles and his memory before he stopped on the starting line and a driver behind came in and killed himself immediately. When you line up these events, they all happen within this three- to four-month period. So in that sense, it’s pretty straightforward to put them in chronological order. But the biggest challenge for me is as you said: Gilles Villeneuve passed away, so how do we continue his story? Basically, once we get to the end of the ’40 season at the end of the second act, we bring Joann Villeneuve back into the story and it goes on to today. If you put the stories of two men together, one does run halfway, so we thought about how we could weave the Villeneuve story back into the narrative and make it a story of two families, not just two A man’s story.

You said you ended up cutting some material from the document because of the runtime. One thing you ended up cutting out that you personally thought was very interesting?

The movie hasn’t been cut too much. Only a few specific details about the technical nuances were eventually cut out at the time. For example, [‘s and ’80s ] is the ground effect era. The reason these cars are so dangerous is because of these technological changes that are taking place, and Didier Pironi is the president of the Drivers’ Association, so during this time he, along with other drivers, has driven more and more More security measures. He was pushing the sport to be safer and then obviously, both had these accidents and the sport did change the following season. I’ve always been interested in this because it’s a very positive thing and he’s been portrayed as a villain in the past. But honestly, now that the movie is out, it’s a level of detail we don’t need. I think the movie gets stronger when it comes to those emotional relationships rather than the details.

Interview edited for length and clarity.




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