Film FestivalsMovie ReviewsSXSW 2019: Qualified Review

Keith NoakesMarch 11, 2019

This will be one of many reviews during this year’s SXSW Film Festival, to keep up with our latest coverage, click here.

Synopsis: In the world of motorsports, the Indianapolis 500 has long been considered ‘the only race’. In May, 1977, Janet Guthrie earned a place in the prestigious field of 33. A year later, overcoming nearly impossible odds, Guthrie cobbled together her own team for a stunning success. But just as her career should have rocketed forward, it suddenly, inexplicably stalled. Her potential denied, Guthrie’s accomplishment at 39, in the male bastion of mid-70s American motorsports, was relegated to the margins of history. Forty years later, what Janet Guthrie achieved stands as an undeniable testament to one woman’s determination and skill. (ESPN)

Starring: Janet Guthrie

Director: Jenna Ricker

Rating: n/a

Running Time: 77mins

Trailer: n/a

Over time, there have been plenty of stories focusing on women trying to enter male-dominated industries. Many have risen to the occasion while others were relegated to a footnote. Nevertheless, their impact still resonates today. The story of Janet Guthrie would be one of those stories. Guthrie, the first woman to ever qualify for the 1977 Indianapolis 500, would be a major disruption in the world of motorsports. As with most women who’ve attempted similar endeavours, this would not go well for Guthrie.

Throughout Guthrie’s story, as she would tell it, she was guided by sheer determination and a pure love of racing. Over time, she started with nothing and would prove that she belong based on her talent. However, Guthrie’s talent only went so far because she was still a woman. Watching her story was both inspiring, frustrating, and ultimately sad. Through her many trials and tribulations, Guthrie would become a reluctant icon and a beacon of inspiration for girls to pursue their dreams.

The film featured plenty of archival footage from Guthrie’s racing career (with some belonging to Guthrie herself), intercut with the usual other prominent figures of the time. It was fun to see some of these figures who were also doubters of Guthrie’s talk about how she turned them around. Primarily made for television, the film is on the short side so it was easy to want more from it as she was such a compelling personality.

Overall, Qualified is an empowering documentary, telling the worthy story of Janet Guthrie, a dynamic personality and a kickass woman. The racing stuff was compelling but a wider focus would been much more engaging.

Score: 8/10

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