May 05, 2014 (Toronto, ON) - Giuseppe Marinoni is agitated. He doesn’t like being filmed. It stresses him out, especially when he’s creating one of his custom frames. “The welds can sense the stress!” he yells.
So starts the documentary Marinoni: The Fire in the Frame.
It’s easy to understand why director Tony Girardin kept his camera rolling regardless of threats and being shooed away. Marinoni is incredibly entertaining. You simply can’t take your eyes off him.
This film is a character study of this famous Canadian frame builder. Stories told by friends, customers and athletes – particularly Jocelyn Lovell – paint a picture of a cantankerous perfectionist with a sparkle in his eyes. But when it’s pointed at his subject, Girardin’s lens captures the essence of what makes Marinoni the man, and Marinoni the frame: passion, love and a lot of patience.
We get to see all that by watching Marinoni craft his frames, train, and live his life just outside of Montreal. As we learn about the story of his early life in Italy to building his successful business in Canada, the film also chronicles Marinoni’s struggle to beat the hour record back in 2012 following his 75th birthday.
We also get some of his life lessons. Here are just a few:
1. Keep setting goals, regardless of your age. We follow 75-year-old Marinoni as he trains to break the hour record for his age group. All the while, he insists that giving up simply isn’t in his makeup. (He jokes that his attempt could very well kill him, but that would only make Girardin’s movie a big box-office smash.) His next goal? Breaking the hour record as an 80-year-old at the new Milton Velodrome in Toronto.
2. Just ride. Born in Rovetta just outside of Milan, Marinoni raced road and track as a youth in Italy. Once he raced in Quebec back in 1965, he stayed with the help of his friend and restauranteur Federico Corneli and just kept on racing. To this day, Marinoni rides about 500km a week, usually before he goes into the shop to build frames.
3. Learn from the best. Once he retired from racing, Marinoni went back to work as a tailor – but that didn’t last long. He wanted to build frames and went back to Italy to learn from Mario Rossin. It was Rossin who taught him that you must watch carefully and to think before you speak. Try to find the answer within yourself before asking a question.
4. Use your skills – all of them. As a tailor, Marinoni made patterns for suits. He didn’t leave that skill when he switched careers. Instead, he gave deep thought to the patterns he created for his frames.
5. Suck it up. When asked about Marinoni’s drive, Simone, his wife and backbone of the family business, quotes an Italian saying, “You can’t complain about a pain that you seek out.”
6. Support talent. Back in 1978, Marinoni recognized greatness in Jocelyn Lovell and built him a frame to match that greatness. That frame turns out to be a common – and wonderful – thread throughout the film.
As the film progresses, two relationships come to light: Marinoni and his dear friend Jocelyn Lovell, one of Canada’s greatest cyclists during the 1960s and 70s who’s storied career was sadly ended by fateful accident with a truck that left him a quadriplegic; and, the relationship between subject and director. Both take on a softer tone.
Marinoni is charmed by the Siri-like voice that translates phrases to Italian on Girardin’s iPhone. And as they walk through the woods near Rovetta, you see the sheer delight in Marinoni’s face as they find wild mushrooms, and in his backyard with his tomatoes.
But nothing matches the joy in Marinoni’s face when travels 600km to visit Lovell. That bond simply can’t be welded. Their lives are indelibly intertwined by the bicycle and the camera captures the sparkle in both of their eyes as Lovell honours his life-long friend with a special gift.
Kudos to Girardin for this unique, touching and brave story about Marinoni, the human condition, and the bicycle… and bringing together two old friends for a long-awaited meeting.
Marinoni: The Fire in the Frame premiered at the 2014 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. At time of writing, distribution is still in the works. Visit www.marinonimovie.com to watch the trailer and keep updated on viewing options.