A Brief History of Roller Derby

image courtesy F-Cruse
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Taught by Kat Vecchio

Kat Vecchio is a documentary filmmaker whose work explores American social and cultural history, with a particular emphases on gender and popular entertainment.

Currently she is directing Big Top, Little Lady, a feature documentary exploring the lives of the female circus performers who trilled the crowds during the early 20th century when the American train circuses were at the height of their popularity.

Her first film, This Is How I Roll, followed some of the first male skaters in the modern roller derby revival as they worked to find their place in a female driven sport. The film is both a humorous and heartfelt chronicling of the fringe of a fringe sport. It’s a unique look at the unexpected, if still familiar, gender politics that plague modern athletes.

She also the Manager of Grants and Investments at Fork Films, where she oversees and facilitates their documentary film grants program. 

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Most recognizable now as a predominately female driven contact sport with an edge, roller derby started as a co-ed marathon race during the Great Depression. The sport's strange and delightfully history is filled with odd twists and turns and some serious bumps and bruises.

In this class, we'll explore the history of roller derby, including:

- More crashes, more cheers, more money! How a crafty promoter turned a marathon race into a full contact sport on 8 wheels.
- Co-ed, campy, and selling out Madison Square Garden, the golden years of roller derby.
- Did roller derby ever really die, or what do alligator pits have to do with it?
- From down in the heart of Texas comes a rock n' roll, beer soaked, DIY revival.
- From the style pages to the sports section, a backlash against the fishnets.
- Isn't that a women's sport? What happened when the boys wanted to play, too.
- Do they allow stage names in the Olympics? The future of roller derby.

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