May 21, 2018
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Front Page, Industry News

Hot Docs 2012: Boxing Girls of Kabul

By TO411 staff writer Daisy Maclean

“I am a lucky Afghan girl who has permission from her family to play sports,” Shahla tells the camera. ”I feel happy that I have a father that supports me. He thinks that girls can be something in the future; that girls can work together with men; that a girl could take a higher place in society.”

This year’s HotDocs Film Festival had a new award to be given out, the Inspirit Foundation Pluralism Prize. Awarded to a film in the Canadian Spectrum program that presented accessible perspectives of a belief system in such a way as to contribute to the development of mutual understanding, respect and inclusion among young people in society, the honour comes with a $10,000 prize for the filmmakers to continue with such outstanding work. Selected and presented by the Inspirit Foundation, the inaugural prize was awarded to a remarkable film, The Boxing Girls of Kabul.

The film follows the progress of three Afghan girls, Shahla, Sadaf, and Shabnam, training to become world-class boxers in a national stadium where, in the not too distant past, women were brought to be executed by the Taliban. “My family fled to Iran during the Taliban [rule] … but I heard that women used to be killed here and sometimes when I exercise alone inside the stadium I panic,” explains Sadaf Rahimi.

Inspired by their tenacious coach (who was once an Olympic contender himself) and training without the benefit of even the most basic facilities, these courageous boxers talk openly about their dreams for the future, their loyalty to their country and their fear of the consequences for their life choices should the Taliban ever come back into power. There is strong disapproval towards female athletes within the culture and while the Taliban was in power all sports for women were banned. So, you can imagine the controversy surrounding a sport that teaches women to fight back.

Kidnapping and death threats have forced their coach to arrange for them to be chauffeured to and from the gym, where the government provided security allows them a limited space within which to train in safety. The girls have the support of their parents, however Shahla’s older brother seems locked in fear for the family’s security and wishes his sister would fall in line with society’s expectations for her. Shabnam and Sadaf’s mother is often asked if she worries boxing will mar her daughters’ looks and therefore potential to get a husband, however she candidly replies that it doesn’t matter. Beaten in boxing or beaten by her husband – it makes no difference.

Committed to their challenging regime of training and exercise, the girls are determined to fight their way onto a larger, more public stage than and even take a shot at the 2012 Olympics. The film follows the girls over the course of their first year competing on an international level and we come to know each of the girls individually and as part of a team of competitors hopelessly outclassed.

“Although they subsequently went on to win medals internationally and do very very well, what I was filming and what I was privileged enough to see was that very first year when they were still coming up against the fact that the competition internationally was much stiffer than they had expected. And these girls that they were fighting against were practicing maybe four or five hours a day, whereas they were practicing maybe four or five hours a week,” says director Ariel Nasr about his film in an interview with Press+1.

He continues, “One of the obstacles was really psychological for these girls because it’s something so new. The way that they were training and the way they were thinking about themselves as athletes was very naïve. They’ve seen the boys boxing”… “but they weren’t putting themselves in the same category”… “So it’s just wrapping their heads around the fact that what they are doing is becoming world-class fighters, and THAT is the goal.”

Enduring family and societal pressures to abandon their dreams, risking persecution and daring to defy tradition these girls take the film on a compelling journey of both personal and political transformation. A genuine illustration of the transformative power of fighting for what you believe in.

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Front Page, Industry News

Hot Docs 2012: Boxing Girls of Kabul

By TO411 staff writer Daisy Maclean

“I am a lucky Afghan girl who has permission from her family to play sports,” Shahla tells the camera. ”I feel happy that I have a father that supports me. He thinks that girls can be something in the future; that girls can work together with men; that a girl could take a higher place in society.”

This year’s HotDocs Film Festival had a new award to be given out, the Inspirit Foundation Pluralism Prize. Awarded to a film in the Canadian Spectrum program that presented accessible perspectives of a belief system in such a way as to contribute to the development of mutual understanding, respect and inclusion among young people in society, the honour comes with a $10,000 prize for the filmmakers to continue with such outstanding work. Selected and presented by the Inspirit Foundation, the inaugural prize was awarded to a remarkable film, The Boxing Girls of Kabul.

The film follows the progress of three Afghan girls, Shahla, Sadaf, and Shabnam, training to become world-class boxers in a national stadium where, in the not too distant past, women were brought to be executed by the Taliban. “My family fled to Iran during the Taliban [rule] … but I heard that women used to be killed here and sometimes when I exercise alone inside the stadium I panic,” explains Sadaf Rahimi.

Inspired by their tenacious coach (who was once an Olympic contender himself) and training without the benefit of even the most basic facilities, these courageous boxers talk openly about their dreams for the future, their loyalty to their country and their fear of the consequences for their life choices should the Taliban ever come back into power. There is strong disapproval towards female athletes within the culture and while the Taliban was in power all sports for women were banned. So, you can imagine the controversy surrounding a sport that teaches women to fight back.

Kidnapping and death threats have forced their coach to arrange for them to be chauffeured to and from the gym, where the government provided security allows them a limited space within which to train in safety. The girls have the support of their parents, however Shahla’s older brother seems locked in fear for the family’s security and wishes his sister would fall in line with society’s expectations for her. Shabnam and Sadaf’s mother is often asked if she worries boxing will mar her daughters’ looks and therefore potential to get a husband, however she candidly replies that it doesn’t matter. Beaten in boxing or beaten by her husband – it makes no difference.

Committed to their challenging regime of training and exercise, the girls are determined to fight their way onto a larger, more public stage than and even take a shot at the 2012 Olympics. The film follows the girls over the course of their first year competing on an international level and we come to know each of the girls individually and as part of a team of competitors hopelessly outclassed.

“Although they subsequently went on to win medals internationally and do very very well, what I was filming and what I was privileged enough to see was that very first year when they were still coming up against the fact that the competition internationally was much stiffer than they had expected. And these girls that they were fighting against were practicing maybe four or five hours a day, whereas they were practicing maybe four or five hours a week,” says director Ariel Nasr about his film in an interview with Press+1.

He continues, “One of the obstacles was really psychological for these girls because it’s something so new. The way that they were training and the way they were thinking about themselves as athletes was very naïve. They’ve seen the boys boxing”… “but they weren’t putting themselves in the same category”… “So it’s just wrapping their heads around the fact that what they are doing is becoming world-class fighters, and THAT is the goal.”

Enduring family and societal pressures to abandon their dreams, risking persecution and daring to defy tradition these girls take the film on a compelling journey of both personal and political transformation. A genuine illustration of the transformative power of fighting for what you believe in.

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You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Front Page, Industry News

Hot Docs 2012: Boxing Girls of Kabul

By TO411 staff writer Daisy Maclean

“I am a lucky Afghan girl who has permission from her family to play sports,” Shahla tells the camera. ”I feel happy that I have a father that supports me. He thinks that girls can be something in the future; that girls can work together with men; that a girl could take a higher place in society.”

This year’s HotDocs Film Festival had a new award to be given out, the Inspirit Foundation Pluralism Prize. Awarded to a film in the Canadian Spectrum program that presented accessible perspectives of a belief system in such a way as to contribute to the development of mutual understanding, respect and inclusion among young people in society, the honour comes with a $10,000 prize for the filmmakers to continue with such outstanding work. Selected and presented by the Inspirit Foundation, the inaugural prize was awarded to a remarkable film, The Boxing Girls of Kabul.

The film follows the progress of three Afghan girls, Shahla, Sadaf, and Shabnam, training to become world-class boxers in a national stadium where, in the not too distant past, women were brought to be executed by the Taliban. “My family fled to Iran during the Taliban [rule] … but I heard that women used to be killed here and sometimes when I exercise alone inside the stadium I panic,” explains Sadaf Rahimi.

Inspired by their tenacious coach (who was once an Olympic contender himself) and training without the benefit of even the most basic facilities, these courageous boxers talk openly about their dreams for the future, their loyalty to their country and their fear of the consequences for their life choices should the Taliban ever come back into power. There is strong disapproval towards female athletes within the culture and while the Taliban was in power all sports for women were banned. So, you can imagine the controversy surrounding a sport that teaches women to fight back.

Kidnapping and death threats have forced their coach to arrange for them to be chauffeured to and from the gym, where the government provided security allows them a limited space within which to train in safety. The girls have the support of their parents, however Shahla’s older brother seems locked in fear for the family’s security and wishes his sister would fall in line with society’s expectations for her. Shabnam and Sadaf’s mother is often asked if she worries boxing will mar her daughters’ looks and therefore potential to get a husband, however she candidly replies that it doesn’t matter. Beaten in boxing or beaten by her husband – it makes no difference.

Committed to their challenging regime of training and exercise, the girls are determined to fight their way onto a larger, more public stage than and even take a shot at the 2012 Olympics. The film follows the girls over the course of their first year competing on an international level and we come to know each of the girls individually and as part of a team of competitors hopelessly outclassed.

“Although they subsequently went on to win medals internationally and do very very well, what I was filming and what I was privileged enough to see was that very first year when they were still coming up against the fact that the competition internationally was much stiffer than they had expected. And these girls that they were fighting against were practicing maybe four or five hours a day, whereas they were practicing maybe four or five hours a week,” says director Ariel Nasr about his film in an interview with Press+1.

He continues, “One of the obstacles was really psychological for these girls because it’s something so new. The way that they were training and the way they were thinking about themselves as athletes was very naïve. They’ve seen the boys boxing”… “but they weren’t putting themselves in the same category”… “So it’s just wrapping their heads around the fact that what they are doing is becoming world-class fighters, and THAT is the goal.”

Enduring family and societal pressures to abandon their dreams, risking persecution and daring to defy tradition these girls take the film on a compelling journey of both personal and political transformation. A genuine illustration of the transformative power of fighting for what you believe in.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

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