SIFF premieres documentary; director and subject interact with students in Terrace theater

By Ben Eyman, Video Manager

“The Cage Fighter” is an intensely intimate film that follows the life of 40-year-old Joe Carman who grapples with following his passion for MMA fighting or settling down into fatherhood. About 150 Terrace students were the first in the area to see the 2017 documentary that was shot entirely in the greater Seattle area over the course of nearly four years by director/cinematographer Jeff Unay. The film was screened during 2nd, PASS and 3rd periods on Friday in the theater as part of the Seattle International Film Festival’s education program and hosted by film instructor and HBN adviser Angelo Comeaux.

The film follows Carman over the course of three and a half years as he struggles with challenges at home, at the gym and in life. Unay said in a question and answer session following the screening that making the film was an unforgettable experience. “I met Joe in a yoga class, and we quickly got to know each other,” Unay said of their chance encounter that eventually led to making the documentary.

The movie is an emotional rollercoaster ride. One moment Joe is playing and laughing with his kids, and then the next he’s having a gut-wrenching argument  with his father. While passionate about fighting, Joe struggles balancing his physically demanding job,  injuries, his strained relationship with his ill wife, and his commitment to being a good father all while knowing his family wants him to stop fighting.

“When Joe started to transition from where he was in the beginning, and became more emotional, I knew I could end the filming,” Unay explained when asked how a director knows when it’s time to stop filming a documentary.

If students missed the exclusive premiere in the Terrace theater, “The Cage Fighter” will be shown Thursday, June 1 at SIFF Cinema Uptown, and on June 4 at the Kirkland Performing Arts Center.

For more information, go to the SIFF page to purchase tickets or find out more about the film and hundreds of others featured at this year’s SIFF.

Go to “The Cage Fighter”

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