|Seattle International Film Festival | The Cage Fighter
USA | 2017 | 83 minutes | Jeff Unay
With a gripping, observational intimacy, director Jeff Unay examines the life of blue-collar Washington family man Joe Carman, who set aside his passion for mixed martial arts for the sake of his family but returns to the ring for one last bout in an effort to defeat his inner demons.
"The only time I feel like I have confidence in myself is when I'm fighting." Joe Carman, nearly 40, face bruised from two rounds in the octagon, has just gone back on a promise to quit mixed-martial-arts cage fighting once and for all. His family is rightfully concerned that this man, who works for the Washington State Ferry system by day, could end up in a wheelchair within the next five years. But something drives him, an addiction to combat that compels him to plead with his beloved wife and children for just one more bout. Then two. Then three. He needs redemption. He needs closure on this part of his life. They relent, but hesitantly. As Joe goes back into an arduous, spirit-crushing training regimen—"This is what separates us from normal people," his coach tells him—he must also contend with potential post-concussion syndrome, his wife's mysterious illness, and a custody battle with his ex-wife. At least in the cage, an old fighter can go down swinging, trading his inner pain for physical blows. The Cage Figther is a riveting local observational documentary culled from three years of unprecedented access to the Carman family, directed and framed by Jeff Unay with a strong visual eye and an even stronger emotional core.
Jeff Unay has spent his career working in visual effects. He is known for the blockbuster hits Hellboy (2004), King Kong (2005), and Avatar (2009). The Cage Fighter is his directorial debut.
Sponsored by 4Culture, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Washington State Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, Encore City Arts, Seattle Weekly
Director: Jeff Unay
Principal Cast: Callie Carman, Joe Carman, Delanee Carman, Vernon Beach
Premiere Status: Seattle
Running Time: 83 minutes
Producer: James Orara, Jeff Unay
Cinematographers: Jeff Unay
Editors: David Teague
Website: Official Film Website
Filmography: Debut Feature Film