In Chip Mabry’s fun, fast-moving documentary about Portland’s Rose City Rollers, the rules of roller derby are helpfully explained, just as you’d expect. You might not expect them to be demonstrated with doughnuts. Voodoo Doughnuts, to be precise, wielded by Wheels of Justice coach Rob Lobster. There are no real names in derby. Not even for coaches.
Mabry’s 80-minute Brutal Beauty focuses on nine skaters, from league founder Rocket Mean to rookie all-star White Flight, who speak briefly about their lives outside of derby — and convincingly about how derby isn’t a hobby; it’s a lifestyle. Brutal Beauty documents the 2009 season, as the formerly low-ranked High Rollers take a shot at the league championships and the all-star travel team, Wheels of Justice, competes at regionals, with their eyes on nationals. Derby’s central theme resonates throughout: bad-ass women finding power in playing a contact sport that creates around itself a strong and supportive community. If you’ve ever even maybe kinda thought you might want to play, you’ll probably be ready to strap on skates by the time the movie’s over. Brutal Beauty: Tales of the Rose City Rollers screens at 7:30 pm Sunday, April 11, at the David Minor Theater. 21+. $5; all proceeds support Eugene’s Emerald City Roller Girls. — Molly Templeton