UCLA is more like Harry Potter’s Hogwarts than you might think. The university resembles the fictional school of wizardry from J.K. Rowling’s books in its grand architecture and dedication to labs and experimentation. And, like Hogwarts, UCLA has a Quidditch team.
Aside from marathons at midnight, Harry Potter’s saga has ended its run in movie theaters, but UCLA brings Quidditch back to the big screen in the 2014 documentary Mudbloods, produced and directed by Farzad Sangari M.A. ’04. The film follows the UCLA team’s journey to the Fifth Annual Quidditch World Cup in New York City in 2011.
The idea for the film came to Sangari as he strolled by the campus’s intramural field and caught sight of students running around with broomsticks between their legs. “I stopped in my tracks,” he says. Sangari funded the film through Kickstarter, raising nearly $27,000. Quidditch, which Rowling invented, combines rugby, football and tag, with the addition of flying broomsticks. And in nonmagical Muggle Quidditch, too, players claim to have soared in mid-air.
“If someone asks, ‘Do you fly?’” says the film’s protagonist and the team’s founder, Tom Marks ’13, “you’ve got to say, ‘Of course we fly.’”
The UCLA team, which received campus club sport status in 2010, practices twice a week. Broomsticks are mandatory. Unlike any other competitive sport, Quidditch can have three different balls on the field at once: the quaffle (if the chaser tosses it through a hoop, the team scores 10 points); two bludgers (used for defense by knocking the players off their brooms); and the golden snitch. In Potter’s magical realm, the snitch is a miniature sparkling ball with wings; whichever team catches it instantly gains 150 points, and the game ends. In nonmagical Quidditch, the snitch is a tennis ball in a sock attached to the waistband of a neutral player (the snitch runner). Another characteristic that distinguishes Quidditch from other collegiate sports: It’s co-ed.
Ranked third in the country by Collegemag.com at the beginning of this season, the UCLA team was nominated for the International Quidditch Association’s Xander Manshel Award. Quidditch was named Club Sport of the Year on campus for 2013–14.
Mudbloods premiered at the AFI Documentary Film Festival in Washington, D.C., last summer and is available on iTunes and on DVD.