Hot Docs Preview: The Boxing Girls of Kabul [2011, Ariel J. Nasr]

The Boxing Girls of Kabul follows the lives of a group of young Afghani women who break from the mold by joining a female boxing club. It’s a heart-wrenching dive into a world that feels very foreign to westerners who wouldn’t bat an eye at girls participating in sports. That this is actually a contentious issue in Afghanistan that results in persecution and even death threats underlines substantive cultural differences. We follow not only these young boxers, but their respective families, some of whom are supportive, and many who are decidedly not.

Without proper facilities or even a boxing ring, these women gather regularly to train and then compete against other nations. I don’t know if enjoy is the right word, but I really did appreciate the insight into the rigid social structure they were born into, as well as the uplifting persistence of these athletes challenging their status quo. My only complaint was one particularly jarring sequence during the competition coverage where we went from following one boxer struggling with her loss to another who all of a sudden found herself in a championship match. It was a real WTF moment where it felt like the camera men had lost a day of footage. Either way, this is a fascinating insight and stark reminder of how women’s rights are at different ages and different stages the world over.

The Boxing Girls of Kabul screens on April 30, May 1, and May 6. Details here.

Posted on by Mark in Hot Docs