Raise the Bar is not an easy film. It challenges you as the viewer the same way the girls in the film are challenged. In turn the girls also challenge the status quo that aims to hold them back from pursuing equality in basketball and in life.
The film follows an Icelandic basketball team of mostly ten-year-old girls as their coach Brynjar aims to push them to build character on and off the court. Brynjar knows he needs to be tough on them, not only to make them the best athletes they can be but also to be able to be strong in the face of adversity. Adversity is found on all sides of this film as it dissects how society will hold women back and put them into a box. Brynjar wishes for the girls on his team to break out of that box and to do that they need to be tough.
Much of the runtime is dedicated to his struggle to align the parents with his methods of training. The girls work hard; Brynjar will yell at them even going as far as to use obscene language. He doesn’t do it simply because he thinks he needs to make them better basketball players but because in this environment they can learn to rise above the anxiety of their lives. I certainly didn’t agree with all the methods Brynjar uses to coach his team and neither do the parents or the association. The film offers both perspectives and leaves you to question how sports can affect the lives of those who play it. Specifically for women who are often discouraged from playing sports and then go on to face chauvinism which discourages the different ambitions they will have in their teen and adult lives.
Raise the Bar premiered at the Canadian Sport Film Festival. For more information click here.