In Australia, competitive calisthenics are a national treasure that tie together generations of women to a sport described as “a cross between ballet, gymnastics, and theater,” according to Olivia Peniston-Bird. The director spoke with Buzzfeed about her new documentary Graceful Girls, which follows the stories of women who perform calisthenics and is the winner of the People’s Choice for Best Documentary at this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival.
Graceful Girls tracks how calisthenics has impacted one family, the Synotts, whose lives have been shaped around the sport, and Brianna Lee, coached by a Synott family member named Diane to win the sport’s highest honor: the title of “Most Graceful Girl.” “Brianna had come second three years in a row and this was her final attempt at the title. It was do or die,” Peniston-Bird said.
Australia calisthenics came to popularity in 1927 and is an atmosphere comparable to competitive dance or cheerleading. Coach Diane is regarded as having “transformed [calisthenics] in the ’70s. She won’t put up with anything less than 200 percent from the kids and parents.” You’ll have to watch Graceful Girls to see how Brianna fares, but Peniston-Bird promises excitement. “As with any epic sporting competition, there’s blood, sweat, and tears. But in this case it’s mixed in with lots of sequins and dance!” Check out the movie’s trailer below.
Read the full story at Buzzfeed.