Institute History

  • 2005 Sundance Film Festival


The notion of quadriplegic athletes may be unimaginable to some, but Murderball shows that they can be as great as any. The film chronicles these men as they overcome unimaginable obstacles to become world-class athletes.

Murderball (aka quad rugby) combines the finesse of soccer with the bone-jarring collisions of a demolition derby. The athletes use custom wheelchairs that look like something out of a Mad Max movie. Players careen around the court with reckless abandon, slamming into each other, fueled by an unrivaled competitive spirit.

Their ultimate goal is to win a gold medal at the Paralympics. Team USA has dominated the sport for years. But when Joe Soares, a gold medalist in 1996 and one of the best ever to play the sport, gets cut from the team, he becomes coach of Team Canada with one goal: beat Team USA at the 2004 Athens games. What follows is a roller-coaster ride of human drama, athletic excellence, and heart-stopping competition that couldn't have been scripted any better.

Murderball is the result of a two-and-a-half-year, all-access pass to locker rooms, bedrooms, churches, and hospitals masterfully put together by filmmakers Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Shapiro. It's a film about relearning everything you've ever known—from brushing your teeth to driving a car to having sex. It's a film about standing up, even after your spirit—and your spine-have been crushed.

— Trevor Groth

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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