Bryan Friedman couldnâ€™t understand his fatherâ€™s bodybuilding obsession. So he decided to make a movie about it. His documentary, The Bodybuilder and I, recently screened at the Toronto HotDocs Film Festival, where it won the Best Canadian Feature Documentary Award for 2007. 59 year old Bill Friedman turned to bodybuilding at about the same time he divorced his second wife, sold his house and law firm, and went into a deep depression. That was a few years ago, These days, heâ€™s a changed man, strutting his bronzed, ripped physique on stage in front of scores of screaming women, and against tough fifty-something competition at the World Grandmaster Champion of Bodybuilders. Bill has the Title and he’s determined to keep it.
His law student son, Bryan, in an effort to get to know the man heâ€™s barely seen in 27 years, follows his dad around through a humour-filled round of pre-competition ritualsâ€”shopping for food (brown rice cakes), selecting the right soundtrack for his routine (the Superman theme), tanning sessions and hilarious rehearsals in his custom-made Superman suit. Yet, behind the humour, is a touching story about a father and son searching for some common ground before itâ€™s too late.
Bill explains how it goes to the young fella
â€œItâ€™s enough of a gesture to start taking the wall down between us, â€œ says Bryan.
Is he a convert to the Life of Iron?
â€œIt doesnâ€™t make sense to me, but thereâ€™s something about bodybuilding â€“ if you spend enough time with these men, youâ€™ll see the effort and the time it takes. My fatherâ€™s found a way of expressing his individuality which works for him. I think thatâ€™s great.â€