Alexi Pappas is a renaissance woman. Poet, check. Essayist, check. Olympic athlete, check. And now, filmmaker.
Pappas and producer Jeremy Teicher co-wrote and co-directed the film, "Tracktown," which tells the story of Plumb Marigold, a young runner from Eugene, Oregon, set to start the Olympic trials. Pappas, an elite long-distance runner who competed in the Rio Games for Greece, also plays the role of Marigold. In all, "Tracktown" provides an authentic look into the unique experience of a world-class female athlete.
The film is available in theaters and on iTunes beginning May 12. Check out this exclusive trailer.
espnW caught up with both Pappas and Teicher to discuss the making of "Tracktown," and why it's important to see female athletes on screen.
espnW: How did this film come to fruition?
Alexi Pappas: I finished my undergrad at Dartmouth and had an opportunity to run a fifth year at the University of Oregon. I moved out there, and what I found was much more than a school, but a whole town that embraced running like I'd never seen before. Jeremy Teicher was working on other film stuff in New York, and I called him to tell him about the [running culture in Oregon]. We started thinking that we could put a movie together.
espnW: What does "Tracktown" mean to you?
Jeremy Teicher: I'm not a professional runner, I'm more of a filmmaker. For me, it's about a young person figuring out what they want to be in their life. Our main character has been focused forever on running and performing, like a lot of athletes are. She questions for the first time why she's training so hard, and why she cares so much. She has to figure that out for herself as a young adult. The movie is about capturing those moments of uncertainty in growing up.
AP: I would add that being proud, confident and kind to yourself are things that athletes struggle with. Plumb, the main character, is faced with some challenges to her confidence. She learns things the harder way.
JT: And the fact that this is happening over the Olympic trials, the most stressful time of an athlete's career doesn't help the situation.
espnW: What was your approach in portraying athletic women cinematically?
AP: I've seen sports movies, and I've seen movies about women growing up, but not about a female athlete growing up. We specifically wanted to [highlight] what the experience of a female distance runner is like, which is a very body focused sport.
espnW: What is the one thing you want people to take away from "Tracktown"?
JT: For me, making the movie was such a unique opportunity to open a window into a world that most don't get to see. A lot of people see the montages at the Olympics on TV, but to be in the nitty gritty on and off the track, it was such a unique opportunity to capture. I hope people can see and understand a world they might not have thought about before. That's why we go to the movies.
AP: Simply the idea that this world exists. We wanted to capture the female athletic experience in this specific world of running.