12th Belfast Film Festival : China Heavyweight
The latest film from Yung Chang director of previous Maysles Brothers Competiton film ‘Last Train Home'.
In southwestern China, state athletic coaches scour the countryside to recruit poor, rural teenagers who demonstrate a natural ability to throw a good punch. Moved into boxing training centres, these boys and girls undergo a rigorous regimen that grooms them to be China's next Olympic heroes but also prepares them for life outside the ring. As these young boxers develop, the allure of turning professional for personal gain and glory competes with the main philosophy behind their training - to represent their country.
Interconnected with their story is that of their charismatic coach, Qi Moxiang, who - now in his late thirties and determined to win back lost honour - trains for a significant fight. China Heavyweight artfully captures the playfulness among the trainees, their gruelling conditioning, and the guiding principle that athletic achievement is for their country, rather than themselves. An intimately observed film that both explores and reflects social change and development in modern China.
1 hour 29 minutes