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Punching the city

Punching the city captures voices from a massive movement sweeping across Europe in the last decade– and more notably in the last three years – the world of grassroots boxing.
The film is focused on the uptake of boxing by grassroots recreational boxers, practicing far from large fitness or sports federation centres in very basic gyms, often located within squats, abandoned industrial buildings or on the outskirts of residential areas. The bulk of the movement is made up of those struggling with a precarious life - immigrants, young people trying to find work, the unemployed, and those working long hard hours for little pay in jobs such as motorcycle delivery or ad flyer distribution. Here people who feel like nothing begin to feel like something.
It’s well known that boxing has always been a sport for the poor. But instead, in the last years, thanks to the big federations, it became a way to make a lot of money. And in many countries is forbidden by law to make boxing, if you are not associated with federation.
The face of boxing in this documentary is a far cry from the angry male and money version of federal boxing. And there is a conflict: it's illegal.
Despite all grassroots boxing is fighting to have a place in the world. And illegal tournaments are anyway organized and attract more people that the official federation events.
Boxing is suffering, and in the film we follow the workout, the matches, in close up style. We can se the punches while they are thrown, or the exhausted faces, but also the happy running, or male and female fighting, again against federation rules. And the places where this kind of boxig is made, again very different form other images which show official events.
But boxing is an urban environment sport. Any kind of boxer come from the deep underground.
And the film also shows the urban landscape.
As postindustrial European cities face the most protracted economic crises the world has ever seen, beneath the sleek skyscrapers there is poverty. It’s not as simple as a lack of money – it is a state of being, as ordinary people are pushed under by the wealthy 1%. In this world of seismic urban change, ordinary people lose cultural capital and social connections. They are often unable to participate in the life of the community to which they once belonged. Cities are no longer human or comfortable. We can see high skyscrapers, steel and shining glass, far from old and poor buildings. Regardless of income, many city dwellers experience claustrophobia living in them. The luxury neighbourhoods, full of trees and flowers appears an irony if compared with the old squat where the grassroots gym are. Urban development from the midcentury to the 1980s was dedicated to a model of continuous economic growth, based in dehumanizing architecture and city planning: ring roads, plazas, and towers. Boxing is a sport which does not require big technical stuffs, and can be easy made without money. In the film is argued that boxing is the antidote to this feeling of powerlessness, exhaustion and to the overwhelming feeling of being crushed by the super rich who develop cities to suit their needs and who ignore the needs of ordinary city dwellers. And making boxing in a grassroots environment make boxing again only the Noble art which was when it was born.

  • Mariella Bussolati
  • Mariella Bussolati
  • Mariella Bussolati
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 10 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    September 3, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    5,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
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Director Biography - Mariella Bussolati

Mariella Bussolati, journalist and writer, graduated from Academy of theatre Paolo Grassi (1981) and School of Cinema Luchino Visconti, Milano (2013) documentary course, started producing video about social issues (Milan). On 2009 started a multimedia project called Orto diffuso about European community gardens (Europe) and gardening. The short Urban making over (on European community gardens) and Another farming is possible (on sustainable breeding), participated at Agrofilm festival Slovenia, 2013. Another farming is possible was the second classified at Golden Goat International Film Festival. Trasformazioni urbane (Italian for Urban making over) participated at Docucity Film Festival, Milan. The short doc Amore che sbrana (Tearing love, 31 min version) went in Italian premiere at Festival Sguardi altrove (2014), won the short doc award at New York Cinevana (2015), was selected for Cinema Doc June 2015 was screened at Singapore World International film festival (2016), was selected at Ozark short Film Festival. won the Best doc award at Eurovision Palermo Film Festival (2017); Hepatitis C, a microvideo, was selected for 60seconds or less Film Festival, Washington University. Paws men roots was selected at Sicilia Ambiente Film Festival 2018.
She edited the film Apocalypse down, the story of a trip of young down syndrome people, to discover independence and she made a lot of videos about boxing and grassroots sport.

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Director Statement

Punching the city is created out of a flow of gathered thematic statements and images and musical montage to create mood and focus. There are no talking heads, only voices and images; no reenactments or stagings. It's a trip in 10 European cities to discover another boxing and its beauty. The film is the story of the gyms and their neighbourhoods and of a boxing which is far away from federations and commercials, but it's near to the true Noble Art it was..