Film Festival Features Squash on the Silver Screen

Three directors of films in the 2017 U.S. Open Squash Film Festival gathered at Drexel: (l-r) Mark Nolan (Blood, Sweat & Squash), Beth Rasin (Keep Eye on Ball) and Mark Funk (Behind the Glass).

The 2017 U.S. Open Squash Film Festival was a highlight of the fourth day of the tournament. The world’s first festival devoted solely to feature-length documentary films about squash, the festival was presented in partnership with Drexel University, The films were shown in the screening room at Westphal College of Media Arts & Design’s URBN Center Annex.

Attracting people from around the country, the festival featured four films. The festival opened with the first major documentary on squash, Keep Eye on Ball: The Hashim Khan Story (2009). Beth Rasin, the film’s producer, came from New York to present it.

Then came the North American premiere of Blood, Sweat & Tears: The Official Authorized Documentary on Jonah Barrington. Mark Nolan, the film’s director, came from Dublin, Ireland to screen it. Afterwards, two people who appeared in the film—Joey Barrington, the son of Jonah and SquashTV commentator, and Nick Matthew, the world No.4—spoke along with Nolan about their seminal film.

Mark Funk, the director of Behind the Glass, arrived from Los Angeles to screen selected portions of his upcoming film on urban squash. Many members and staff of two local urban programs—SquashSmarts and First State Squash—came to the screening, as did world No.72, Reyna Pacheco, who is an urban squash graduate from Access Academy in San Diego.

The festival closed with the Philadelphia premiere of Girl Unbound: The War to Be Her, the 2016 film on Maria Toorpakai. (The film, which premiered last year at TIFF in Toronto, was ironically screened at the exact same time at the ArcLight Santa Monica in Los Angeles.)

Screened by Jerry Waters, the exciting cinematic cyclorama were very well-received, prompting wide-ranging discussions.