A Letter to My Coach
Maria Hiekkamäki, Finland 2023
Language: Finnish, English
A Letter to My Coach is a documentary about an adolescent female athlete who develops a trusting relationship with her coach. The problems begin, when the abuse of that trust begins. After two years, the athlete decides to break the silence by writing him a letter about their shared secret.
Content warning: child abuse
When amateur female sports club Volteo takes on the challenge to become a national team at vaulting, its members don’t realize how much sacrifice goes with such a decision. The Herd is a story of changes that this decision brings along in lives of the coach, Natalia, as well as the team members, especially the youngest Zosia and the oldest Ola. In the name of one goal, they will have to overcome their own weaknesses and turn their Sunday hobby into an everyday duty.
The craft of equestrian vaulting is a gymnastic dance performed on horseback. The protagonists of this vérité hybrid doc are a team of young girls, ranging in age from elementary school to late teens, led by inordinately strident but well-meaning Natalia. Their wish is to represent their country at the international level, although their acrobatics at first leave a lot to be desired. They are at the stage where they would usually be told to try again next year, but as it turns out, vaulting is so niche there’s nobody else around. With no one willing or able to claim the mantel, the girls will be challenged to perform a miracle. But if there is one thing that these girls proved they’re best at, it’s getting up after a hard fall – still proud and with their chin up.
Nikola Jovic, Ioncinema