We’ve seen SENNA is on Sky Movies and is out on DVD, you really should try and watch this fantastic film of the life of one of the most charismatic sportsmen we’ve ever seen. We have got an exclusive interview with the legendary, late Formula One racing driver’s sister, Viviane Senna.
In the interview she talks about the documentary – that focused on the life of Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna, who won the F1 world championship three times before his death at age 34 – gives an insight into her role in the film and how she thinks his legacy lives on.
Read our interview below:
How did you first hear about the Senna documentary project and how did you get involved in the production?
About four or five years ago, the writer and creator of the film, Manish Pandey, contacted us to propose the idea of making the documentary. He talked through the whole concept, including how he was planning to direct the film. He gave us a great impression, which led us to give the green light.
How did you then collaborate in the creation of the documentary?
My main contribution to the film was to give guidance and assistance in collecting data and images. But the team’s prior research was already very rich. We collated a lot of material; after all, the whole film is built on images recorded at the time. There isn’t a traditional storyteller, as often happens in documentaries – the proposal here was to make a movie. It therefore appears as if Ayrton Senna is telling his own story, either in domestic scenes or in races. Indeed, among the fantastic archival material assembled, we can see much footage that is absolutely unprecedented. After all, that is the first time Bernie Ecclestone opened the Formula One files. Anyway, both research and the release of these images from such different sources took a long time.
Did you like the results after all that work?
Yes, definitely! We witnessed a first cut at a closed session during the Cannes International Film Festival last year in May. We made some comments, plus the director Asif Kapadia made adjustments to the final version and the result is not a typical documentary. The number of images that were used is astronomical. Some of the footage and interviews with Senna were recorded by many cameras in various positions, so that you could choose to convey the same moment in time using a variety of different images. The film gained a very cinematic character. Also, Ayrton is himself the whole time and due to the many possibilities of images he becomes the “actor” in the movie. The film tells the true story without a narrator, live and in colour.
In January this year, Senna won the audience award for the best World Cinema Audience Documentary at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in America, a country that does not really follow Formula One. What do you credit this to?
Indeed, Americans are not very tuned into Formula One. But not only is the film actually a good movie, it also tells the story of a great human being. It is the saga of a hero; Ayrton embodied the archetype of a warrior. He was the first racing driver of the so-called Third World and in addition to winning races he challenged the powers of Formula One and was clear about what disturbed him. He was a man of value and that strikes a chord with people. At the Sundance Film Festival and elsewhere the film has surpassed the expectations of public reaction. I saw a lot of men crying. It is a story of values and this is a great message for the family. This is a family film and not just made for fans.
You continue to follow Formula One; do you have an opinion about how the sport now operates and do you feel it has changed a lot compared to the time of Ayrton?
Last year I had more contact with the sport due to Bruno Senna’s (Ayrton’s nephew) involvement, but I do not follow Formula One backstage. This is a very complex world, where political clashes and confrontations always happen off the track, often creating adverse conditions for all involved. There is surely a “Dark Side of the Force” (mention of Star Wars) in Formula One. Of course, every year we see the impressive development of technical expertise, but I will not bother to stay abreast of what happens in Formula One.
You continue to carry out very admirable work with the Ayrton Senna Institute, as its founder and chief? Tell us a bit more about your work.
The Institute has become a reference in the field of education. It is the largest NGO in the country dedicated to educating the child. The results are effective and we have assisted more than 2 million children. One of the strengths of the Institute is its density; we operate in all states of Brazil and in about 1,300 municipalities, representing 20% of all cities in this vast country. As public education is actually in the process of improving, the Senna Institute is a great partner in assisting this.
And finally, what do you think is the greatest legacy of Ayrton Senna?
Just the inspiration he continues to bring to people today; that of a person who fought a great system, won and always prioritised ethics and solidarity. Senna is about good values. My brother is a human heritage in this respect and the movie is about this story that made history.
SENNA is now available on DVD.