The Steelers journey to compete in the World Cup of gay rugby in this hopeful yet emotionally honest sports documentary about playing for pride, whoever your team is.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2020
Steelers: World's First Gay Rugby Club is having its World Premiere in cinema at The Capitol Cinema in Auckland, on Friday 24 July at 8.00PM. See here for details.
This film is screening in select cinemas and venues across the country. See here for details.
In 1995 a bunch of gay men formed the first gay rugby club while sitting in a pub in London, the spirit of comradery (and beer) already apparent. More than 60 clubs have formed around the world since, coming together to play for the Bingham Cup every two years.
The road to the World Cup, the journey to the championship – it’s a tried-and-true sports narrative and one that Steelers revels in as we head to Amsterdam for the 2018 tournament. For sports fans, rugby is certainly a constant in this uplifting debut feature from Australian TV reporter Eammon Ashton-Atkinson, but it’s the players and their stories that really shine through.
Ashton-Atkinson, who was due to play himself until concussion knocked him out, shot the film in three weeks, allowing his journalistic nous to open up an inside view of the Steelers. The Cup forms the backdrop as we meet one of the newer players on the team, battling depression on and off the field; a key forward who dabbles in drag; and the female coach who still has to battle sexism while participating in a competition that fosters equality and inclusivity. It’s a lo-fi portrait with a wonderfully big heart to it.
Ultimately, the rugby club has become a place to belong, where you can be whatever you want. As the players find their self-confidence on the pitch – the playing field being a great equaliser – you can’t help but root for them and celebrate gay sporting lives. You might appreciate the many shots of topless men in speedos, too. — Steph Walker
About the Filmmaker
Eammon Ashton-Atkinson is an Australian news reporter living in New York working as a foreign correspondent for Network 10. Previously he was the Europe Correspondent based in London. Steelers is his debut feature-length documentary.