I caught a screening recently of Lovestruck: Wrestling’s No. 1 Fan, a new doco from Megan Spencer (filmmaker, film critic, and recently Artistic Director of the Revelation film festival in Perth). It’s an observational documentary about Sue Chuter, an aptly named Melbourne wrestling fan. Her house is covered in photos of her heroes with plenty of shots among them of her posing with the stars, she always has her camera to her eye at matches, and she is uninhibited about talking of her life both to Spencer’s camera and her own video diary. Not only does Sue call up Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler on his birthday (she seems to have memorized the overseas number), later on, Lawler singles out her out before a Melbourne bout to pay tribute to her.
It’s a film about an obsession, but also about community and identity. There’s some suggestion of an inadequate family life; a first marriage with someone who didn’t share the devotion, an estranged daughter who returns to contact (for a while). It’s clear that being a wrestling fan is a big part of who Sue is, and that the fellowship of other fans and the stars themselves provides a more certain set of relationships.
It’s a film made on a low budget, funded by the energy and devotion of Megan Spencer herself, who spent ten years on it (the handmade exuberance is reflected in the film’s homepage being on MySpace rather than a slicker official website). It’s a film that’s ultimately enabled by the subject herself. Sue Chuter is willing to be honest for the camera and is so loquacious that Spencer’s observational approach is never just that: as filmmaker she doesn’t simply follow Sue silently, she maintains a running conversation with her for most of the film. There is a sequence where Spencer simply watches, though: it’s at the 21st party Sue’s organised for her returned daughter. It’s a bit sentimental (as all such events are) but it’s a real gesture of connection.
I don’t know what sort of TV release Lovestruck might get, but there’s a DVD release in October. Share the obsession.