“In my eyes, you’re more deserving than anyone else here”, says Kenny Simm to his friend and mentee Stevie Richardson, a soldier who lost his two legs and several fingers during an explosion while serving in Afghanistan. IED: Improve Every Day follows Stevie as he becomes one of the first men to ever compete in the disabled category at the Arnold Strongman, the largest sports festival in the world.

Despite guaranteeing his place amongst the greatest, the veteran struggles to come to terms with his new identity and the new possibilities life holds for him as a disabled man. The camera catches the curious glimpses of bystanders as the Scotsman walks through the crowds at the event, their eyes moving straight to Stevie’s prosthetics. In this mecca of strength, the body is the Holy Grail, and Stevie is suddenly overwhelmed by the constant realisation that his will never be the same again.

Allowing the viewer space for contemplation, Turner alternates between the claustrophobic convention centre and the ethereal Scottish mountains to craft a story that goes beyond the romanticised need for a happy ending. Words are often raw and thoughts half-finished, and much is said when the director simply lets his camera rest onto these characters that have seen so much and have so much to tell.

IED: Improve Every Day is a poignant look into the physical legacy of war and its subsequent psychological bearings. More than that, however, the documentary is a moving insight into the relationship between Stevie and Kenny, a camaraderie that started from a shared bond as ex-military but evolved into a partnership way beyond the brothers in arms. As Stevie grieves the man he will never be, Kenny celebrates the person he has become and everything he stands for. Strength, here, is a concept much broader than numbers in weights.



CAST: Stevie Richardson, Kenny Simm, Bill Kazmaier

DIRECTOR: Ruaridh M. Turner

SYNOPSIS: A British soldier who lost both legs and half of a hand in Afghanistan rebuilds his body and mind when he enters into the world of competitive strongman with the help of a former Royal Marines Commando.