Updated on July 14, 2016
Alexi Pappas and Jeremy Teicher made a movie called Tracktown. We had been hearing about the movie for some time. We asked Lindsay Rossmiller to view it and review it. Here is her review:
By: Lindsay Rossmiller
EUGENE, Ore. – On a sunny Tuesday night in July, the McDonald Theater in downtown Eugene was filled with members of the running and track community for the Oregon premiere of Alexi Pappas’ and Jeremy Teicher’s movie, Tracktown.
Runners bibs with the Tracktown logo were given out and the crowd was filled with people wearing running shoes, baseball caps, and shirts with slogans like “What Would Pre Do?” and “Pre Lives.” There were local runners and Eugene athletes who made appearances in the movie in attendance.
Teicher began the film with an introduction and an explanation that Pappas, who will compete for Greece at the Olympics, was actually in Amsterdam to run the European Championships 10k the next day.
At that announcement, the crowd broke into applause and a few cheers of “Go Alexi!”
Pappas was, however, able to be in attendance for the formal world premiere at the L.A. film festival on June 4, 2016 before leaving for Greece.
“L.A. was really cool, but here is where we shot the movie and we have a lot of our cast and crew in the audience tonight,” said Teicher.
For many of them, it was their first chance to see the finished product in what has been an almost three year process to completion.
The Eugene premiere was held on the rest day of the Olympic Trials. The main character, Plumb Marigold (played by Pappas), is a runner from Eugene competing in the Olympic Trials. Marigold is forced to take a day off and it’s there that she experiences the other sides of Eugene through the eyes of a non-runner.
The crowd laughed as they recognized landmarks and qualities that are identifying characteristics of Eugene – a backyard chicken named Cornelius, a homeless man on a unicycle, the Saturday Market and its host of characters, even down to Marigold’s father wearing a green and yellow tie-dyed Tracktown Pizza shirt.
They also recognized many of the people in the movie. Laughter rippled through the theater at the sight of Nick Symmonds sitting in a blow-up kiddie pool in a lawn chair.
Lance Deal and Jon Anderson made appearances as bakers, many Eugene and Portland based runners either ran in races or on the trails in town as characters and stand-ins, and Ian Dobson, Andrew Wheating and even the Oregonian’s Ken Goe played the role of reporters in a mixed zone.
The crowd clapped and cheered even through the credits as they saw names of people they knew come up on the screen as producers and sound engineers and grip holders.
Teicher said after in the Q & A session that they were guided by the principle of making a film that the running community could be proud of.
The finished product is as much a movie about being a runner as it is about trying to compete in the very place that is so much a hub of the sport that it has even added “Tracktown, U.S.A.” to the welcome signs.
It’s also about the need to find balance when pursuing your goals. Pappas has been very vocal about how film-making and writing have allowed her to personally find that balance which allows her to compete better at the elite level.
Pappas brings authenticity to the role not just in physical ability, but in the emotion faced by the pressure of the Olympic Trials and the sacrifices competitors make. Plumb is forced to evaluate those on her day off and Pappas’ portrayal provides glimpses of understanding and validation for that experience.
Teicher and Pappas hope to line up an east coast premiere (both graduated from Dartmouth) and potentially even an international premiere along with a few more film festival screenings. They are also working on distribution to make it more widely available.
Marigold quotes Dan Gable in the movie, “Gold medals aren’t made of gold. They’re made of sweat, determination and a hard-to-find alloy called guts.” Well so are films.