Breaking Out of the Box

Photo credit: Ameesha Joshi and Anna Sarkissianset

Everyone loves an underdog story. However, when Montreal directors and producers Ameesha Joshi and Anna Sarkissianset set out to make their first feature-length film, they had no idea it would become an award-winning documentary.

The idea for With This Ring struck when Joshi attended the World Press Photo exhibit in 2005, post-graduation from Concordia University in Montreal. After coming across some photos of young Indian women in fight mode, boxing each other on the beach in Chennai, she wanted to know more.

“As a first-generation Canadian, born to Indian parents, I could imagine the social pressures they faced,” says Joshi, who worked as a software designer in Ottawa between 1996-1998. “I did some research and discovered they lived year-round in a militant style training camp and were winning medals around the world. I knew I had a film on my hands.”

She enlisted the help of Sarkissian to collaborate on the project in November 2006. With borrowed equipment and funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec, the National Film Board of Canada, and crowdfunding, they began to make their movie.

This was not an easy feat. It took the two filmmakers almost two years to be trusted by the Indian Women’s National Boxing Team members and coaches and ten years to finish the film. What’s more – they did it all with next to no money.

Spending months living and traveling with the team across the globe, including London for the 2012 Olympics, the filmmakers chronicled the lives and careers of three Indian women who challenge the status quo and traditional gender roles on their way to becoming champion level boxers.

Despite their consistent world class rankings, their home country’s media continued to pass over their wins. It was only after Mary Kom, one of the documentary’s characters and five-time world champion, stood on the London Olympic podium that they were forced to start listening. She has since become an icon for female empowerment, her newfound celebrity status cemented after Priyanka Chopra starred in the Bollywood blockbuster movie telling her life story.

The movie premiered at the Mumbai International World Film Festival. Since then, it has been shown around the world, earning the co-directors the 2017 award for Emerging Director (Documentary) at the Asian American International Film Festival and an Honourable Mention at 2017’s Mosaic International South Asian Film Festival.

Ottawa is next on the list, where the feature documentary will be screened as part of the Ottawa India Film Festival Awards (OIFFA) on June 14th at 6:50 pm at Cineplex Cinemas Landsdowne and VIP.

Don’t miss the Ottawa premiere of With This Ring. Tickets are available now.

Online teaser here!