Concordia film school grads Ameesha Joshi and Anna Sarkissian have spent the last six years shooting With This Ring, a documentary on women boxers in India. Now, they’re on the final leg of a crowdfunding drive to finish the doc’s post-production.
The project’s genesis took place in 2005, when Joshi happened to spot an image at a World Press Photo exhibit. “I saw a photograph of a woman boxer on a beach in India, and I was immediately intrigued,” she recalls. “What I found out about them intrigued me even further.”
While in India visiting family, she went to a training camp for the increasingly popular sport. “It’s a military-style boot camp. These girls are away from their families for 10 months of the year, and they’re training six days a week, three times a day. All these rows of young girls boxing — it’s actually very cinematic, and it gave me chills.”
In 2006, a world championship in Delhi was announced. “I said, ‘it’s now or never,’” recalls cinematographer turned co-director Sarkissian. “We went to India with no money and borrowed equipment. The Indian team swept the entire competition. and yet nobody on the streets knew anything about it.”
Tag team: Sarkissian and Joshi with star Mary Kom (centre)
Over the lengthy shooting period, Joshi and Sarkissian, who are roommates as well as filmmaking partners, spent a lot of intensive time together. “I think the fact that we have a similar sense of humour makes it bearable,” Joshi laughs. They also sharpened the film’s focus on a handful of characters — a skill, Sarkissian points out, they were never taught in film school and had to learn themselves as they went — including Mary Kom, who just won a bronze medal at the Olympics, giving some closure to the story.
But now shooting is done, and the duo has turned to the public to help them finish it. “Along the way we’ve done pretty much everything ourselves, for free,” explains Sarkissian. “We need to actually start paying people for the technical post-production work that we can’t do ourselves.”
As of this writing, the team is just under $7,000 short of their $17,500 goal, with one week to go. “We have been blown away by the support that we’re getting,” says Joshi. Check out the various funding options that they helpfully offer on their Indiegogo page, and you too can be a part of this project. ■