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Ayrton Senna documentary U.S. release set for Aug. 12
U.S.-based Formula One fans, rejoice: The documentary film Senna, which tells the story of the late three-time world champion, Ayrton Senna, will be released in the United States on Aug. 12 by Producer's Distribution Agency, with the scale of the distribution yet to be determined.

Directed by Asif Kapadia, Senna made its North American premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, in January. Culled from nearly 5,000 hours of footage--some never seen before--the film received strong critical praise from those throughout the world fortunate to see it already. It won the coveted Audience Award at Sundance this year.

Writing about the film from the festival, Kenneth Turan, chief film critic of the Los Angeles Times, wrote, "Sometimes a documentary will unexpectedly reach out and grab you by the throat, not giving you a second to breathe. That's the way it was with Senna . . . such is the power of this man, and this film."

"Occasionally a film comes along which defies all preconceptions and simply demands to be seen," PDA's John Sloss commented. "Senna is an unexpectedly moving and powerful film that we believe has immense playability far beyond its obvious core audience, and we all feel strongly that this is exactly the type of film will benefit from our unique approach to distribution."

Kapadia said at a recent New York City screening that he had been told originally that U.S. audiences would have no interest in Senna, but extremely positive reactions from audiences in New York and Austin, Texas--where F1 expects to race in 2012--proved otherwise and prompted a change to the release plan.

Working Title's Eric Fellner said, "We are pleased to be working with PDA to bring Senna to audiences in the U.S. The response to the film has been tremendous so far, and we are confident that we have chosen a strong partner in PDA to customize a release plan for us that will maximize its distribution potential in the States."

The announcement comes just three days prior to the 17th anniversary of Senna's death on May 1, 1994, during the opening laps of the San Marino Grand Prix at the Imola circuit in Italy. The 34-year-old Brazilian was leading a young Michael Schumacher's Benetton-Ford when his Williams-Renault veered suddenly off the track as he swept through the flat-out left-hand corner named Tamburello. The car suffered a heavy impact, but the driver's mortal wound--and only substantial injury--came from a broken piece of suspension that pierced his helmet visor.

In addition to his championships in 1988, 1990 and 1991--all earned while driving for McLaren--Senna's final F1 résumé boasts 41 wins and 65 pole positions. His pole-position tally was the sport's all-time record until Schumacher broke it, eerily, in qualifying at Imola in 2006.

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