Official Selection, 2018 Ann Arbor Film Festival
Official Selection, 2018 Berlin Critics Week
With a max capacity of nearly 110,000, fabled Michigan Stadium (nicknamed “The Big House”) is the largest football arena in America. During every home Saturday where the University of Michigan Wolverines play host to other college institutions, this massive monolith to pigskin greatness turns into a temporary city. Hundreds of dedicated employees, from medics to food handlers to operations staff, begin their workday long before kickoff in order to serve the coming masses.
Peabody Award-winning director Kazuhiro Soda, working in conjunction with Michigan professors Markus Nornes and Terri Sarris and 13 tenacious film students, was given complete access to film behind-the-scenes during the fall of 2016. They capture the inner workings of an elaborate institution whose hierarchical tiers of experience come to reflect class divisions that parallel society at large.
Unfolding in an observational style reminiscent of the great Frederick Wiseman’s films, The Big House is moving fly-on-the-wall cinema, rarely interjecting in the prideful, drunken commotion of student rituals or the diligent communications between university staffers and first responders tasked with major safety responsibilities. In total, this vibrant documentary depicts the cult of college football not from a judgmental perch, but from the ground level of fans caught up in the swirl of game day, and the workers who make that fantasy a reality.
– Glenn Heath, Jr.