Hell on Wheels | Chicago Reader

Hell on Wheels

After petering out in the 70s, women's roller derby recently made a comeback as a semicamp event with costumes, character names, and an ethos of female empowerment. Yet video maker Bob Ray (Rock Opera) happens onto more than a fad piece with this documentary about the pioneering Austin league BGGW (“Bad Girls, Good Women”). In early 2003, with the shoot in progress, the four women who'd founded BGGW wanted to incorporate and be legally recognized as owners, while the majority of players preferred a more democratic organization and ultimately peeled off to start a rival league. (In a choice irony, the BGGW founders wound up hiring a male business consultant to help them reorganize.) Ray ends with a rah-rah coda about the spread of women's roller derby across the globe, but against all expectations his video is primarily a boardroom drama. 90 min.

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