First of all, timing. Lately climbing has become less and less of a male domain; this applies both to pushing the grade on the most difficult lines on Earth and to the rising numbers of recreational female gym-goers. Motivations and goals are different, with some doing it because of pure ambition and others to tone their arms before the bikini season, but the trend is here and it was time for it to find its reflection in the realm of movie-making.
It is obvious that every movie tells a story, yet with Push It it’s just more literal. From the first scenes we are guided by a calm voice belonging to the filmmaker Jen Randall. This adds a personal touch to the production and is a nice change in the time of loud and fast, MTV-like climbing movies.
Another novel thing is that Push It does away with the myth that only ground-breaking achievements are worth picturing. The goal that Jen and her partner Jackie set for themselves is to conquer El Cap and, as they both admit in the movie, it isn’t anything exceptional – apart from the fact that it is an incredible challenge for them. And, probably, for most of the film viewers too. There are many more intermediate climbers than pros, after all. Didn’t we use to believe that the effort to get better was equally valuable regardless of the grade?
However, Push It offers something for the grade-hungry too. We can see Mina Leslie-Wujastyk crushing some uber-difficult problems in Switzerland and we can hear her say that her biggest achievements are not necessarily the most difficult ones. Her plain justification of choosing climbing over everything else is a punch in the nose for the still prevailing culture of telling women they can’t just like sports by default, the same way that men can.
Randall’s production is not only another opportunity to marvel at the skill of elite athletes, be it men, or much less often, women. It’s a much more complex story built around the notions of journey and female camaraderie. It’s an open invitation for everyone to keep pushing it.
And one more thing. You know how pretty much most of everything is made by men and for men, yet women still are a big part of the consumers? Well, it can work the other way around too. So guys, be sure not to miss out on that one!