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The Bodybuilder & I

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Every June, 59-year-old Bill Friedman waxes his body, strips down the smallest bikini shorts imaginable, slathers himself with bronzing spray and then struts his way across a stage where he flexes his impressive muscles and gyrates before a crowd of hundreds. Bill is a competitive bodybuilder - a former world champ in the age 50-60 category. And now he's determined to win his title back.

Documentary director Bryan Friedman is 26. Bill - Bryan's dad - hasn't been around since Bryan was a baby. Over the last two decades, the two have spent virtually no time together. Bryan's feelings are complicated - but mostly negative, with a deep dose of embarrassment over Bill's muscle-bound body and single-minded bodybuilding obsession.

Now, Bryan is chronicling his dad's attempt to make it back to the top. And somehow - between bench presses, tanning sessions, costume shopping and the occasional furtive cigarette - the two men are coming to know, and maybe even sort of understand, each other.

Told with humour and sensitivity, The Bodybuilder and I is a feature documentary about success, failure, shame and family. It is a journey into the strange subculture of geriatric bodybuilders and into the life of a man who is determined to regain his status as champion. And it is the journey of an estranged son trying to discover who his father really is - in hopes that he can learn to love and respect him for the first time.

2007, 85 min 48 s

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Best Canadian Documentary
FIN: Atlantic International Film Festival
September 13 to 22 2007, Halifax - Canada

Best Canadian Feature Documentary
Hot Docs
April 19 to 29 2007, Toronto - Canada

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