Screened as part of NZIFF 2005

Murderball 2004

Directed by Henry Alex Rubin, Dana Adam Shapiro

“Powered by a fantastic subject and real-life characters who would be difficult to invent, Murderball is a blast and a half.” — Robert Koehler, Variety

USA In English and Swedish with English subtitles
84 minutes 35mm


Based on an article by Dana Adam Shapiro


Henry Alex Rubin


Geoffrey Richman
Conor O’Neill


Jamie Saft


Sundance, New Directors/New Films, San Francisco, Sydney 2005


“If this documentary about the sport of quadriplegic rugby were just another profile in courage of athletes who have triumphed over disability, it would still be an inspirational crowd pleaser. But it’s deeper than that. Murderball, as it was originally called, is a contact sport played on a basketball court by rival teams equipped with armored wheelchairs. Spanning two years and culminating with the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, the movie focuses on the intense rivalry between the United States and Canadian teams, a competition made all the more bitter by the fact that the Canadian coach, Joe Soares, is a former American star. The film explores Mr Soares’ home life and his troubled relationship with his 12-year-old son. Among the players, the movie devotes the most attention to Mark Zupan, the charismatic American team leader who was disabled by a freakish accident in a car driven by his best friend. The film provides a lot of information about paraplegics, even about their sex lives. And as much as it applauds the players’ fighting spirit, it delivers an unspoken critique of rampant sports mania and an obsession with winning that can wreak personal havoc off the playing field.” — Stephen Holden, NY Times 

Murderball lifts the lid on the ultra-competitive world of quad rugby. As in any classic sports story, the rivalry in Murderball plays out at the highest level. There is more laughter than tears, which makes the tearful moments all the more poignant. The filmmakers’ success arises from such intimacy, and from the preconceptions they turn inside out.” — Sports Illustrated