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Lunafest Showcases 'Lady Razorbacks', a Story of a Women's Rugby Team

Filmmaker Laura Green's look at an East Palo Alto team of women who find common ground on the field. The movie screens at BlueLight Cinemas April 15.

Athletic and masculine rugby players normally don’t conjure up images of women, but for women’s rugby team, East Palo Alto Razorbacks, it’s a story of hardship and finding community.

Local Bay Area filmmaker Laura Green uncovers the harsh realities of young Pacific Islander women who try to form a sanctuary in a tough neighborhood through the sport. Green’s documentary Lady Razorbacks is one of nine chosen films that will be displayed at Sunday’s at .

The Lady Razorbacks team is unique because it features Tongans, Fijians and Samoan women with diverse backgrounds playing rugby and expressing new ways to reach out and support one another.

“The film is about this group of women starting a team and some of the things they both get out of the team and struggles along the way,” said Green. “That ranges from women finding a way to sort of break out of gender roles.”

Green says that rugby provides an athletic outlet unusual for women because it’s a sport dominated by men. Green adds that rugby for Pacific Islanders is a “traditionally male sport. It’s not that common for women to play the sport.”

Lady Razorbacks is a film Green created from the Stanford MFA program. She was limited to using an old-fashioned Bolex camera that had to be hand-cranked and shot in black and white film.

“We can only use 15 minutes of film and we produce a three to five minute film,” said Green. “That’s a huge challenge to be able to make every shot really count.”

Green’s spark of inspiration originates from a woman in her journalism class that did an article in which she quoted a woman who talked about being approximately 300 pounds. This interested Green because this woman took up rugby.

Green decided to approach them and document their practice.

“When I went to the practice it was clear these women were having so much fun and that they were really making a community,” says Green. “I think that was what really struck me when I went to their practice.”

Green herself played rugby at her university and embraces the sport. Being a fellow rugby player assisted in building trust before being able to create Lady Razorbacks and Green believes the common ground solidified her connection with the players.

Green believes the freedom for the women to hit hard and learn from mistakes empowers their community.

“For some younger women on the team it’s really been an outlet to sort of feel free, to move around, to be empowered to tackle somebody,” said Green.

As for older women playing the sport, Green says, “A lot of it has to do with mentoring younger women—some are motivated to make sure that this group of younger women has space to feel comfortable.

Before filming Lady Razorbacks, Green filmed natives in East Africa where military families are affected by HIV. She says that the illiterate and poor people in Uganda really interested her and that the men in the AIDS unit impressed her. Green said the men in the unit are “smart, dedicated and working really hard on this problem.”

Green finds interest in compelling human stories and realized filming documentaries was her passion after taking two production classes at Brown University.

will have traveled to over 150 different cities and 20,000 people are expected to view all nine films including Green’s Lady Razorbacks.

Green says it’s exciting to a part of Lunafest and is very impressed by the program as a whole. “I think the festival does a really good job of providing a community for film makers,” she adds.

With new filmmakers finding it progressively harder to be successful, Green believes she chose a career path with adversity.

But Green says she would pursue the same career if given another choice.

“It is very rewarding,” said Green.

Advance purchase tickets are $15, or $20 at the door. Contact Jackie Cohen at 408-255-5002 to purchase tickets.

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