In Bigger, Stronger, Faster, a big hit at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, documentarian Christopher Bell takes a hard look at steroid culture and the bad rap it gets from mainstream America, tackling the Western obsession with body image. Clocking in just under two hours, Bell's sprawling overview deals with the impact of 1980's pop culture icons like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, then dives into the gritty details of steroid usage in sports and the recent congressional hearings where baseball players were reprimanded on national television.
Bell doesn't view the issue in black-and-white terms: His own brothers, featured in the film, continually use steroids to enhance their bodybuilding careers. Contrasting the personal with the political, Bigger, Stronger, Faster diagnoses a distinctly American malady. Cinematical spoke with Bell last week in New York, where Bigger, Stronger, Faster has been screening at the Tribeca Film Festival. The movie opens May 30.
Cinematical: The movie tackles a major issue that many Americans have strong opinions about, but it also has a personal component because of your family's story. What's it been like facing the growing public awareness of the film?
Christopher Bell: It's so rewarding to hear, "Hey, you made a good movie. Thanks for telling the truth." We haven't really been criticized or attacked by anybody. There was one woman at Sundance who really upset about 'roid rage, saying that we glossed over it. I think we actually explained it pretty well.