Filmmaker  Laura McCann writes about her acclaimed new documentary Revolutions, a compelling portrait of the Irish women's roller derby scene.

Me: I’m making a documentary about the Irish Roller Derby team.

Person 1: Oh roller derby? I’ve heard of that. Is it where they skate around?

Me: Yeah, well they do more than that but….

Person 2: What do they do with the ball?

Me: There’s no ball.

Person 3: Well why do they have sticks?

Me: They don't have sticks.

<insert perplexed look here>

I’ve had this conversation a lot since I started shooting Revolutions in 2011. It’s only a new sport here in Ireland. I heard about Dublin Roller Derby on Facebook - their videos looked insane. I hid my face in my hands and watched them through my fingers, wincing when bodies bounced off the floor and skaters collided with each other at high speed.

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When I discovered that an Irish Roller Derby team was being formed to compete at the first ever Roller Derby World Cup I knew I had to follow this. It seemed like a no brainer. I went to the first Team Ireland training session and I was hooked. I had no idea what I was getting myself in for.

I was about to embark on an adventure with incredible athletes whose passion and dedication - both to the sport and to their grassroots community - was bursting out of them. World domination was the aim and roller derby was the game. In short, roller derby is a team sport, played on skates on an oval track. There’s two teams on the track and each team is made up of 4 blockers and 1 jammer. It’s the jammer's job to pass out the opposing blockers - for each one she passes her team gets a point - watch the jammer for the first few minutes and it all becomes clear.

The first day I turned up with the camera, Zola Blood was kind enough to let me know that she would skate through me if I got in the way, camera or no camera… She wasn’t lying, and I loved that about her! You had to be tough and you couldn’t be afraid to get hurt. There's coffee splatter on the wall of the sports hall in Inchicore to prove it.

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This is a fascinating sport to watch but there’s so much more to the roller derby community. It’s run by the skaters for the skaters and because of that it seems to attract women who have an independent streak, who like to be the captain of their own ship. I’m often asked "What kind of person plays roller derby?" - and the answer is every kind, there really isn't a particular type. One quality that stood out in the women I met through this film, however: determination. They knew what they wanted and they would do whatever they had to get it.

Any good story starts with someone who wants something, and in Ireland in 2011 a lot of people were left wanting. The country was crippled by the recession and people’s entire careers were wiped out overnight. Zola had a Ph.D but no job, and her teammate Crow's small business had ground to a halt. Zola describes roller derby as a "coping mechanism for the unemployed". There were some really though times both on and off the track, but this film is about holding on, not giving up and sticking together.

Revolutions opens on June 30th. A Q&A will take place with director Laura McGann after the 18.15 screening on Friday 30th June at the Irish Film Institute, Dublin - details here.