x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Outcry as brakes put on Senna film's UAE release

Race fans are disappointed that the award-winning documentary Senna will not be released in the UAE.

ABU DHABI // Formula One race fans are disappointed that the feature-length documentary Senna, about one of the sport's legends, will not be shown in the UAE anytime soon.

Gulf Film, the local distributor for Universal Pictures, said it was not going to release the film about the life of Ayrton Senna this year.

Senna, a Brazilian who won three Formula One world championships, raced for McLaren from 1988 to 1993. He was the last Formula One driver to die at the racing wheel when his car crashed into a concrete wall at about 217kph when he was leading the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix in Imola, Italy.

Paul Velasco, communications manager at the Dubai Autodrome, said the decision not to release the film affects a wider audience than just race fans.

"The movie is not about motor racing," Mr Velasco said. "It's about a legend who has excelled in Formula One and is an example to every sportsman on the planet."

The documentary was released to very good reviews in the UK on June 3, with the McLaren executive chairman, Ron Dennis, reported to have cried during a viewing.

Phill Tromans, deputy editor of EVO Middle East magazine, said car enthusiasts were waiting to hear about the release date.

"With Abu Dhabi hosting a grand prix it seems a great shame for regional newcomers to Formula One to miss what is, by all accounts, a fascinating look at one of the biggest names in motorsport," he said.

Senna won the best documentary category at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

Mohammed al Jneibi, a motorsport fan, has consistently raised the issue of the film on Twitter.

"I'm disappointed that the documentary won't be screened here," he said. "Ideally, if it is to be shown here, it should be via one of the two main movie festivals in the UAE."

Mr Al Jneibi said that despite the country's love of rally driving, Formula One was making massive inroads in popularity.

eharnan@thenational.ae