Can four Burmese boys overcome cultural and financial barriers to make it in the merciless world of Thai boxing?
DIRECTED BY HÉLÈNE CHOQUETTE (Canada, Canadian Spectrum)
Monday, April 30, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 3, 4:45 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 (350 King Street West)
Fists of Pride will be making its world premiere at Hot Docs 2012. The movie follows four young boys as they prepare for the annual Water Festival Thai boxing competition. All Karen migrants from Burma, they are seeking a better life and the riches of combat sports in Thailand. The boys live in an impoverished village home to Burmese migrants without papers or other chances to escape the fields and factories where their families work.
Going beyond the conventions of a typical rags-to-riches tale, the boys and Choquette recognize and acknowledge the impossibility of their dreams. The boys see examples of failed boxers close to them, but have few other options and persist with their plans. The coaches seem to be benevolent, but lingering questions about their motivations remain: the coaches earn money by gambling on their students bouts, and try to motivate their students by promising them a share of the prize money.
The documentary moves slowly, and with a sense of inevitability. It’s an interesting exploration of the conflicts between cultures. It’s also not afraid of ambiguity: it shows that the children are perceptive of the circumstances by which they are confined, and that they, all the while, hold onto nearly impossible hopes and dreams.