Profile: Lucy Walker - director of The Crash Reel

Profile: Lucy Walker - director of The Crash Reel

Documentary looks at near-death of professional snowboarder Kevin Pearce

Lucy Walker

An Oxford graduate, Walker won a Fulbright Scholarship to study film at New York’s Tisch School of the Arts. She made her debut documentary feature in 2002 with Devil’s Playground, exploring the romantic experiences of Amish teenagers. She has since directed the acclaimed documentaries Blindsight, Countdown to Zero, and the Oscar-nominated Waste Land, charting the creative collaboration between Brazilian artist Vik Muniz and a group of Rio refuse pickers at the world’s largest garbage dump.

What’s she up to now?
Her latest non-fiction feature is The Crash Reel, which chronicles the life-changing accident and attempted comeback of American snowboarding champion Kevin Pearce.

On Kevin Pearce
‘I first met Kevin in the summer of 2010 after his crash, when I was mentoring at a retreat for extreme sports athletes. It was one of his first excursions from hospital and because of his brain injury, he couldn’t remember very much. He kept introducing himself to me and saying, "hi, I’m Kevin”’.

On extreme sports
‘The world of extreme sports is also one of big business. Kids might think that snowboarding is the ultimate freedom, but this freedom is being marketed to them by commercial sponsors. What amazed me was that Kevin was desperate to get back to snowboarding, even though if he hit his head again, he might die.’

On film titles
‘I find titles the hardest thing. I was worried that Waste Land was too much of a downer. For me, The Crash Reel confronts what the film is about: it’s not just about the reality of a crash, it’s about the extremity we all face, and what happens when life crashes on you.’

On a golden age for documentary filmmaking
'With portable cameras and affordable data and non-linear digital editing, I think this is a golden age of documentary filmmaking. These new technologies mean we can make complicated, beautifully crafted and cinematic films about real-life stories.’

Interesting fact
Walker supported herself at film school by DJing in New York.

The Crash Reel will screen on Sky Atlantic in November.

The Crash Reel: Publicity Clip 2

The Crash Reel

  • 4 stars
  • 2013
  • US
  • 1h 48min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Lucy Walker
  • UK release: 4 October 2013

In 2009, snowboarder Kevin Pearce sustained a near-fatal brain injury while training, and despite warnings from doctors he was determined to return to competition. Walker's impressive documentary addresses tough issues to do with the safety of athletes and the difficulty of coming to terms with trauma, combining visceral…