Michael Tucker, Petra Epperlein, USA, 2011, color, HDcam, 85'
In the words of a Mixed Martial Arts practitioner, "The energy in the cage is almost spiritual." When he's in the ring, he's "getting in touch with my inner monkey." Welcome to the world of the free fight, which has been gaining popularity in recent years. In Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA for short, almost all techniques are fair game. Fightville follows several ambitious MMA practitioners during their intense training at a Martial Arts Academy, in the months leading up to an important fight. The camera follows them closely, capturing all the blood, sweat and tears that they shed. The various episodes are all introduced by a quotation from a great thinker or poet, from Friedrich Nietzsche to Walt Whitman. These modern gladiators are firm believers that they have the power to make their dreams come true and become wealthy champions. But victory is never certain and every detail counts, so their dedication is tremendous. A balanced diet is also essential. One of the fighters drops out because personal problems are getting him down and he has to be protected from himself. "The goal is not to win," one trainer philosophizes. "We build better men."