Producer Rachel Koteen makes her feature-length debut with Take The Ice. The documentary follows Dani Rylan as she struggles to get the National Women’s Hockey League off the ground. The NWHL was created because if female players couldn’t make the Olympic teams, their dreams were over after college. Unfortunately, over the course of this first season, Rylan, her collaborators, and the players on the team learn that sexism in sports is still alive.
Some of the teams in the league include Boston Pride, Connecticut Whales, Buffalo Beauts, and Metropolitan Riveters. Athletes from most of the teams are interviewed, and due to the highs and lows of playing a dangerous sport, a pseudo-subplot emerges. Denna (“like Jenna but with a D”) Laing is seriously injured and is in the hospital for physical therapy. The favorite team, sporting eight American team players, now begin loose matches. Are they able to rebound and win the Isabelle Cup, or is the team roster chockful of clashing personalities on and off the ice?
“…struggles to get the National Women’s Hockey League off the ground.”
Take The Ice is rudimentary in its presentation. Interviews are medium-close, news footage makes a few appearances, etc. However, the directors of photography Jarred Alterman, Marian Dealy, and Brynmore Williams, lovingly glide over the ice, showing a reverence for the sport. Judah-Lev Dickstein’s editing also keeps the momentum flowing wonderfully. But it is the story of female empowerment, and the struggles of creating something necessary and keeping it afloat are fascinating. Rylan consults several people and tries to find sponsorship so the players can be paid what they are owed (go Dunkin!).
Take The Ice is an uplifting look at how to grow representation in what has ostensibly been a boys’ club. The players on display are very talented, and the inherent arc of which team will win is engaging. The editing is excellent, and the cinematographers clearly love hockey as much as the director and subject. Now, go strap on some stakes and make that slapshot.
For more information, visit the official Take The Ice site.