A documentary about Mark Bingham, who was killed in the plane that went down in Pennsylvania on 9/11, director Scott Gracheff's The Rugby Player celebrates Bingham's achievements—including the fact that he was one of the first members of The Fog, the gay rugby team ins San Francisco—through interviews with close friends, lovers, and, most poignantly, his mother.
Death looms larger over even the most uplifting moments of the film, and at times it can feel as if one is watching a funeral film for the deceased. Bingham's mother Alice Hoagland, a former United Airlines flight attendant, speaks most eloquently about his early life, his coming out, and his life in rugby. She also continues to tell her son's story and his wish for a more accepting, inclusive world in first-person essays.
Being built like a house, it turns out Bingham seemed to have few problems with any one berating him for his sexuality, and when he moved to San Francisco, he gladly joined the gay rugby team, finding a new home.
His family and friends believe he was one of the team of people who crashed the plane into Pennsylvania, instead of its intended Camp David target, and his legacy as a hero remains. A film about a vibrant man's life cut short, this personal story remains an enduring reminder of the attacks that took place on September 11, 2001.
The Rugby Player screens tonight as part of Newfest and is currently making its way through the film festival circuit, earning great acclaim at each stop, including the HBO Audience Award for best documentary at its world premiere during the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. For more information regarding the film, including upcoming screenings, visit the film's website.
Watch the clip "Mark Goes to France" below:
Watch the clip, "Mark Joins the SF Fog," below: