Finlay Pretsell’s breakthrough as a filmmaker came in 2007 with Standing Start, a short film that combines his dual passions for cycling and filmmaking. The success of that film, nominated for a Grierson Newcomer Award, planted a seed for a feature, that would allow Finlay to communicate his ecstatic vision of what it feels like to ride and race. At the same time Finlay met Scottish-born cyclist David Millar, one of Britain’s most successful road cyclists, with stage wins in all three of the Grand Tours. This meeting started Finlay on the road to his directorial debut feature documentary TIME TRIAL.
It has today been announced that the World Premiere of TIME TRIAL will take place this November at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). Produced by Sonja Henrici of SDI Productions, and with an original score by US composer Dan Deacon, the film takes us into the very heart of competitive cycling as never before. Using pioneering filming techniques, bespoke vehicles and on-bike cameras, the film follows the final races of cyclist David Millar’s career, leading up to his last encounter with the Tour de France.
A rage against the fading light.
— Richard Williams, The Guardian
TIME TRIAL has been selected for the Feature Length Competition and will have a special screening at the 1500 seat Royal Theatre Carre. IDFA attracts more than 3000 industry professionals and film audiences in excess of 271,000 a year. The prestigious premiere signifies a huge achievement for Finlay and SDI, with TIME TRIAL being SDI’s most ambitious film to date.
We’re proud to be back at IDFA with this singular film from Finlay Pretsell. It’s a mesmerising, kinetic piece which brings you into the heart of cycling through the eyes of fellow Scot, David Millar.
— Noe Mendelle, SDI Productions
TIME TRIAL is a film that gives a radical new insight through the eyes of leading sportsman David Millar, of the experiences inside the peloton, pushing up impossible climbs and down rapid descents, with every mile travelled, a mile closer to the end. Also featuring professional cyclists Thomas Dekker and Mark Cavendish, TIME TRIAL reveals how the human spirit is driven by a force deeper than success and glory.
It’s a huge honour to be invited to play in main competition at the biggest documentary film festival in the world - we had always imagined the film being viewed as a film and not just a sports film. I wanted to make a film that shows what it’s like to race for people who would never throw their leg over a bike and bike riders alike. I cannot wait to share with such a large audience on its first ever outing!
— Finlay Pretsell, Director
Director Finlay Pretsell is an award-winning filmmaker who once set out on the long road to becoming a professional cyclist himself. He has had success with several short films, including winning a BAFTA for Ma Bar, which was shown at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival and over 50 other international film festivals. Finlay has been an integral part of Scottish Documentary Institute since 2005, and The Perfect Fit (2011) which he produced, was shortlisted for an Oscar for Best Short Documentary.
With Time Trial we wanted to capture not only what it’s like to be in a bike race, but also what it’s like to be inside a bike racer’s mind. That mind was mine, in my final season, and although it wasn’t the final season I had dreamt of it made for the most realistic depiction of being a pro bike racer we could have ever imagined. Even if it at times it was a bit of a nightmare, all the more so perhaps.
— David Millar
IDFA runs from the 15th-26th of November. You can read more about the IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary here.