In his latest documentary Freetime Machos, Finnish director Mika Ronkainen takes us on an interesting journey into the lives of a rugby team in his home city of Oulu, Finland.
The story focuses on Matti and Mikka, two friends brought together by the love of the sport but growing painfully apart with the demands of everyday life. Matti, the cockier of the two, isn't sure if he wants to settle down with his long-time girlfriend or live the life of Reilly. Older and wiser Mikka struggles to balance his commitment to his teammates with ever-growing responsibilities to his wife and four kids.
Their beloved team is also facing problems: without a single win, they face relegation from the first division. English coach Roger is troubled by the glaring deficiencies of his team, but finds solace in practice as he faces the prospect of losing his job in a round of mass layoffs at Nokia.
Helping Matti and Mikka on and off the field are fellow teammates Jarmo, an accomplished author writing his next book; Tuomo, an ornithologist with a dislike for the team's mascot; and Ana, a Spanish exchange student recruited to practice with the guys but forbidden to play in games.
As the season progresses, the team's fate and the future of the two men unfold comically yet poignantly. Though rugby is the vehicle, this film is really about friendship, modern Finnish life and men's changing role in society.
Grab a mate, head for one of the screenings (see below), and enjoy a rare glimpse of amateur rugby at its rawest.
Freetime Machos premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York on Sunday, April 25th with additional screenings additional screenings 4/26, 4/28, and 5/1. For further details visit Tribeca Film Festival and the Freetime Machos homepage. For an exclusive interview with the director, check out my podcast here .