Cleveland International Film Festival } April 7 – April 18, 2021 } Playhouse Square

ON THE ROPES

 

Year: 1999
Country: USA
Run Time: 90 minutes

Hard-hitting - that's the ref's decision for this v?rit? portrait of three young amateur boxers from Brooklyn, sparring and hoping in the same Bed-Stuy gym once frequented by an unknown named Mike Tyson. But the mean streets (observes one seen-it-all trainer) are the toughest opponents of all and the viewer has a ringside seat to some life bouts equally as tumultuous as Iron Mike's rise and fall. Just 17, Noel fights an uncertain battle against delinquency; when he wins a match he feels like a champion, on the canvas and off, but when he falls he feels like a palooka. In contrast, George is the gym's golden boy, apparently a real contender. And before you can say "Don King," George trades up to another combo of trainers/managers and starts dissing his old hangout while growing wary and hostile over the people surrounding him. Tyrene's fists and chiseled physique weren't enough to save her from a bodyslam by an abusive boyfriend; now she's trying to make a fresh start on the athletic circuit, despite a crack- and AIDS-infested household. By the final bell you'll have witnessed surprised victories and agonized defeats in a documentary narrative that packs a knockout punch.

Director
Nanette Burstein

Producer
Nanette Burstein, Brett Morgen

Cinematography
Brett Morgen

Editing
Nancy Baker, Nanette Burstein

Principal Cast
Noel Santiago, Tyrene Manson, George Walton

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