A scrappy trio go toe-to-toe with the Taliban's lingering legacy.
DIRECTED BY ARIEL J. NASR (Canada, Canadian Spectrum)
Monday, April 30, 3:00 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 (350 King Street West)
Tuesday, May 1, 7:30 p.m.
Royal Cinema (608 College Street)
Sunday, May 6, 1:30 p.m.
Cumberland 2 (159 Cumberland Street)
Lacking adequate equipment and facilities would pose a serious impediment to any athletic hopeful, but it’s an altogether more daunting handicap to know that your very participation is an affront to a recently ousted, brutally repressive regime. In The Boxing Girls of Kabul, Ariel Nasr profiles three trainees at Afghanistan’s female boxing academy who face both forms of obstacle as they vie to represent their country in international competition.
“Fortunately the situation right now in Kabul is better,” observes their coach, in reference to the fact that the stadium in which the girls train was once used by the Taliban to stage public executions. Even so, female athletes—and boxers, above all—are still frowned upon by many Afghans, including the brother of Shahla, a tenacious welterweight.
Nasr effectively establishes the stakes his subjects are up against, and it’s difficult not to admire their courage and commitment. But that admiration never becomes an intimate appreciation of their characters or aspirations. At just 52 minutes, The Boxing Girls of Kabul doesn’t quite go the distance; we’re still warming to these plucky, taboo-busting pugilists as the credits begin to roll.