New to VOD this week: T-REX
Drea Cooper and Zackary Canepari’s profile of a boxer made its bow at SXSW last year. Its extensive fest run has also included Hot Docs, New Orleans, San Francisco, Traverse City, Camden, Hot Springs Doc, DOK Leipzig, Cucalorus, Athena, and Atlantic, among others. The doc was released earlier this week on Vimeo on Demand.
Cooper and Canepari trace a young fighter’s Olympic dreams as women’s boxing becomes an official part of the Games in 2012. Their subject, Claressa Shields, better known by the titular nickname, has been training since she was eleven, convincing her gruff coach Jason to change his mind about women in the sport. Sixteen when this portrait begins, T-Rex is determined to qualify for the London Games, channeling a difficult upbringing and a seemingly still-rocky current home life in economically-depressed Flint MI into boxing with the hopes of bettering not only her situation, but that of her family. Success and its impact on Shields’ ego brings strain to her relationship with her coach – also an interesting figure – while also unveiling the double standards that are often faced by female athletes. While an often somewhat reserved subject, Shields is likeable – particularly when she lets her guard down with a love interest who also rankles coach Jason – further helping to distinguish this project from the standard Olympic athlete portrait sub-genre.