A breezy docu following 10 women though two years' participation in major mountain biking competitions, "Hardihood" gives the thumbs-up to girl-jockery, even if its human interest angles and musings on sports world gender equity don't plumb very deep.

A breezy docu following 10 women though two years’ participation in major mountain biking competitions, “Hardihood” gives the thumbs-up to girl-jockery, even if its human interest angles and musings on sports world gender equity don’t plumb very deep. Beyond travel on women’s, gay and sport focused fest circuits, vid-shot feature looks best suited for niche broadcasters.

Several subjects are corporate-sponsored pro athletes with the same enviable worries (if not necessarily the same financial rewards) as male extreme-sport stars: Getting over jet lag after long flights to international race sites, maintaining sleep/eating habits, checking out cross-country routes, etc. Others have very full lives outside the competition realm, most notably three-time national champ Jacquie Phelan, a true role model who’s founded a women’s cyclist org and teaches novice riders. Some protags are out lesbians, others straight, but nearly all boast the kind of go-for-it jock single-mindedness that’s more interesting in action than articulate in repose. Larger issues re: aggression vs. femininity, overcoming adolescent girls’ low self-esteem, et al., are noted, albeit too briefly. If competently assembled docu lacks the dramatic focus that might absorb general viewers, it will surely inspire junior athletes.

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Production: A Queenbea Prods. presentation. Produced, directed by Nicole Hahn.

Crew: Camera (color, vid), Hahn; editor, Jennifer Steinman; music/sound design, Lisa Kadet Kuhne. Reviewed at San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, June 23, 2001. Running time: 78 MIN.

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