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Fists of Pride

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.

Back to Hot Docs 2012 Reviews


  • Keithlarkin

    Great documentary, my only negative comment had to do with the ending. I didn’t feel showing the kids all happy on the truck with the water accompanied by the music flowed at all. What was the point / thought around ending the film this way? To make the audience feel warm and happy? The film was quite powerful and I felt the ending did a dis service to this documentary.

    I would have prefered to see the film end with the boy’s running off into the distance with some words on the screen about their current situation, this would have been much more impactful on the audience.

    Nonetheless, I highly reccomend this documentary, very imformative and my hat’s off to the film maker and her team.