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The Bodybuilder and I

Winner ~Hot Docs~ Best Canadian Feature Documentary

A few years ago, 59-year-old Bill Friedman was an out-of-shape workaholic lawyer, a lousy husband and an absent father with a mansion in a Toronto suburb. After his second divorce, he suffered a major depression, sold the house, left the law firm and started working out. A lot. Bill became a competitive bodybuilder. For director Bryan Friedman, this is a fascinating subject for a documentary, but also a little embarrassing. The bulging, bronzed and glistening geriatric muscleman squeezed into a thong just happens to be his estranged father. Bryan is 26. Bryan’s dad hasn’t been around since Bryan was a baby. Over the last two decades, the two have spent virtually no time together. Bryan’s feelings are complicated but mostly negative, with a deep dose of embarrassment over Bill’s muscle-bound body and single-minded bodybuilding obsession. Making this film is Bryan’s way of coming to terms with the man he has hardly seen. Following his dad’s obsession brings up painful unresolved issues for Bryan, but it still seems easier than talking to his dad through a wall that is 26 years thick. Through the quest for sculpted perfection, the choreographed routines and the tanning sessions emerges a funny and poignant musing on coping with failure, dealing with family and reluctant forgiveness. If Werner Herzog had made Little Miss Sunshine, the results might look something like this – brave, funny, unflinching, a little crazy but always starkly honest. – Vancouver International Film Festival

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Directed by: 
Bryan Friedman
Running Time: 
Screenplay by: 
Documentary Feature

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