Winner of the Audience Award in the documentary category at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, Senna is a riveting look at Brazilian Formula One legend Ayrton Senna, one of boldest and most exciting race car champions of all time.

Senna was a TV star and pin-up, a celebrity who took Formula One to new places and acclaim during the decade he dominated it .  Charming, charismatic and fiercely articulate, the film charts his explosion onto the F1 scene in 1984 to his tragic death a decade later in a crash at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.  Senna’s rise was meteoric, but director Asif Kapadia (The Warrior, Far North) ensures the film  stays grounded, following his career path with steady introspection and carefully tracing his heated rivalry with French champion Alain Prost, the crashes, the backroom politics, the rapturous Brazilian fanbase and the tragic ending.

Comprised entirely of newsreel clips and other fascinating backstage footage culled from the Formula One archives, home videos, and even in-car camera recordings, Kapadia expertly crafts a behind-the-scenes look (much of it never-before-seen) that is utterly riveting.  It lends the film a grainy sense of intimacy and immediacy, especially the sequences where he appears with Prost or clashes with the French racing president, while the scenes of his reception in Brazil are extremely moving; it’s also a surprisingly spiritual film, particularly when Senna talks about the importance of religion in his life and career.

Both sad and celebratory, Senna is an exemplary piece of storytelling and an affirmation of all the bonds Senna forged in his life — with his family, colleagues, and the people of Brazil. Thrilling and deeply affecting, this is a must-see film for both racing fans and non-fans alike.