Robert Greene says there are plenty of intellectual sounding answers he could give to explain why he made Fake It So Real, a documentary about small-town independent wrestling in North Carolina.
Greene, a 2000 CHASS graduate and an editor and director at 4th Row Films, could say it’s because wrestling is an ideal mix of art and theater. He could say it’s because he admires wrestling’s use of continuous story lines. He could offer analysis of how wrestling blurs the lines of reality and the absurd.
But his reason was more basic. “I’m a lifelong wrestling fan. Unapologetically,” says Greene, whom we interviewed last year about All In: The Poker Movie. “I grew up loving it and never got out of it. It’s always been a dream project for me to do.”
And that dream project is now garnering critical acclaim. The New Yorker‘s Richard Brody named it one of the best films of 2012. And Roger Ebert recently highlighted Fake It So Real, which is available for download online and will be released on DVD later this year, in a list of the 12 best documentaries he saw in 2012.
“It’s a crazy honor,” Greene says of Ebert’s salute. “To be seen by him means that it played in theaters in Chicago. Having your movie in a theater, that’s every director’s dream. He responded to it in a very special way, and in a way where people can relate.”
One of the aspects that Ebert celebrates, and that Greene says he hears people respond to when they talk to him about the film, is that the characters in Lincolnton, N.C., are easy to care about because they dream big.
“The highest compliment I get about the film is that people can see something of themselves in the movie,” Greene says. “They say, ‘I didn’t know I had so much in common with guys from the South who want to do wrestling.’ There’s a quality to dreamers where they’re tough-minded and don’t give up.”
Greene says he never got caught up in questions about whether wrestling’s real. He says his subjects have found something they love, so it’s real to them.
“They know that this is the thing that makes them happy,” he says. “They go to their jobs and talk about wrestling all the time. Wrestling does fill a void for a lot of people.”