CALGARY — A documentary exploring the golden era of professional wrestling had one of its final private screenings Wednesday evening prior to becoming more readily accessible to Canadian fans next month.
“350 Days” is a project by Vancouver-based actor Fulvio Cecere, who is the director and co-producer along with Darren Antola, who began the project six years ago.
The final product includes 38 interviews, mostly of professional wrestlers and many of them dead, who described rock-star lifestyles that included big money, sex, drugs and steroids.
“Of the 38 we talked to, we’re approaching about 20 of them who have passed and that’s really sad. That’s in a six-year span. It’s crazy. They’re just dropping like flies,” said Cecere, 59, in an interview with The Canadian Press.
“Many of them are going through real hard times. It’s health problems, financial problems. They’ve had to do a whole bunch of GoFundMe campaigns to cover mortgages and medical issues.”
Calgary’s Bret (The Hitman) Hart attended the screening and is featured prominently in the movie.
“How could I not come to Calgary and thank Bret? He’s really the star of the movie,” Cecere said.
The title “350 Days” refers to the amount of time many of the performers wrestled each year.
Hart, who made his ring debut in 1978, said he’s been part of several wrestling documentaries, but this one tells a different story.
“As much as everybody went through to be a professional wrestler and what the career took out of them, on their body and their health and even their welfare, it was all worth it in the end,” Hart said.
“I loved my career. I loved what I did. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
The Calgarian gained popularity and championship success through the 1980s and ’90s in the World Wrestling Federation, now World Wrestling Entertainment, where he was part of the tag-team the Hart Foundation.
But Hart said far too many of his former friends and competitors have died.
“Some of them have been just tragic circumstances and bad luck. For the most part, far too many deaths in wrestling are from drug dependency on pills and overdose and opioids, and that kind of thing,” he said.
“They should all be here. They’re all tragic accidents and guys who took too many pills thinking that they had some sort of special tolerance and they all miscalculated.”
Cecere, who grew up in Montreal, has a long list of TV and movie credits, but wanted to get on the other side of the camera.
“I’m stunned. I wasn’t even a wrestling fan. I did this strictly from a filmmaking point of view and it’s just nuts. Everybody and their mother is a wrestling fan,” he laughed.
“It’s got the nostalgia factor. I do have this built-in audience which is pretty awesome.”
Although its release was limited, the movie will soon be available to Canadian wrestling fans next month on Amazon.
“It’s not readily available in Canada now and because I’m Canadian, because it’s got so much Canadian content, because I live in Vancouver, it’s just a no-brainer to do these private screenings,” he said.
“This is just strictly me thanking the crews, thanking the wrestlers, just raising some awareness and promoting the film before it becomes readily available in Canada.”
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Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press