Women and Boxing in Canada: Last Woman Standing at Hot Docs

 Reviewed in this essay: Last Woman Standing, directed by Juliet Lammers and Lorraine Price, Canada, 2013 at Hot Docs 2013.

The key to a good sports documentary—especially for those of us who don’t feel especially enraptured by the intrigues of competition—is in reminding viewers that sport is actually a field of relationships, and in bringing those relationships to the fore. That’s just what directors Juliet Lammers and Lorraine Price have done in telling the story of Ariane Fortin and Mary Spencer, two world champion Canadian boxers and former friends. At the 2012 announcement by the International Olympic Committee that women’s boxing will finally be included in the upcoming London Games, they find themselves newly vying against each other for a spot on the Canadian national team.

The complex relationship of these two very ambitious and talented young women with Olympic aspirations constitutes Last Woman Standing’s central narrative thread. Equally interesting is the relationships it portrays between a young generation of female boxers and an older boxing generation represented by male trainers, and between Canada and the athletes in whom it invests. Last Woman Standing is a compelling and well-crafted film told by two filmmakers who obviously share the passion of their two protagonists for an at-times unforgiving sport, and whose enthusiasm for its tribulations thus proves surprisingly contagious.

Last Woman Standing screens twice more at this year’s Hot Docs, Sunday April 28 (12:30 PM) at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema and Friday May 3 (1:30PM) at the TIFF Bell Lightbox 2.