MUDBLOODS: UCLA-based Quidditch Documentary Screens at USC

(From left to right): Alex Ago, Alex Benepe, Farzad Sangari
MUDBLOODS (From left to right): Alex Ago, Alex Benepe, Farzad Sangari

USC students/faculty, friends, Harry Potter fans and Quidditch players, alike, shuffled into the Norris Cinema Theatre/Frank Sinatra Hall at the University of Southern California on Sunday afternoon for a special screening of Farzad Sangari’s MUDBLOODS. Following the screening, Alex Ago, Director of Programming at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, moderated a discussion between U.S. Commissioner of Quidditch, Alex Benepe, and the director/editor/producer of the documentary.

Sangari, a UCLA Film School alum, spent 8 months documenting the UCLA Quidditch team’s triumphs and failures on their journey to the Quidditch World Cup in New York. He gathered 110 hours of footage of UCLA Captain Tom Marks and his bludgeoning, beat-boxing, broom-wielding peers to make the 2 hour documentary. To get acquainted with his subjects, Sangari even played along: “As soon as I played [Quidditch], I knew this was no joke.” However, as highlighted in the film, people worlwide fail to recognize Quidditch as a sport, despite its growing popularity in the collegiate community its and full-contact intensity. During post-production, Sangari said that it was difficult to capture and balance both the whimsical and serious aspects of Quidditch.

Even he became subject to this dismissive attitude toward Quidditch while making the film. In the post-screening discussion, Sangari briefly characterized the general reactions to his project and involvement the team: “There were two reactions: One, they would be very excited. Or two, they would just stare at me.”

The film also highlights a giggle-worthy controversy between hometown rivals friends, USC and UCLA, in which a UCLA player caught the unsuspecting snitch player as he exited a World Cup bathroom. “We’ve since implemented a rule where the snitch must stay in the pitch; it’s been very popular,” Commissioner Benepe explained on Sunday. USC senior Quidditch-player, August Luhrs, who is featured in the film, commented on the upset: “UCLA is family, but the next time, we’re gonna kick their ass.”

Speaking on the progress and status of Quidditch today, Benepe offered, “It’s a fun filler for the media when they’re looking for something funny or cool. I saw the value that [a documentary] could bring.” Benepe continued to stress the realness of the sport: “There’s a lot of really good teams around L.A. I wouldn’t want to go up against any of these guys today.”

MUDBLOODS is available on Netflix. The next Quidditch World Cup will be held in South Carolina on April 11-12, 2015.


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