Big Wheels: Want to know how they really roll?
If you’re curious about the historical underpinnings of Whip It’s fictional story, check out Bob Ray’s documentary Hell on Wheels, which chronicles the formation of BGGW (Bad Girl, Good Woman), one of the Austin leagues responsible for the current roller derby renaissance. (The film is on DVD, but you can also watch it for free at snagfilms.com.) After premiering at South by Southwest, in 2007, Hell on Wheels played at a number of other festivals but never found theatrical release, perhaps because a rollicking first third gives way to a slightly picayune chronicle of labor disputes and intraleague squabbles. Still, Ray captures some delightful sights, including scenes from the very first matches featuring the Holy Rollers, and he puts forth a spirited portrait of a group of sometimes difficult but extremely determined women who took a man’s exploitative idea and skated with it to feminist glory.