The Cleveland International Film Festival promotes artistically and culturally significant film arts through education and exhibition to enrich the life of the community.
Country: United States
Run Time: 90 minutes
Emily Abt is a director who makes difficult topics accessible. Like her documentary "All of Us," which deals with HIV in black American women, TOE TO TOE is a film that aims to spark dialogue among girls at great personal risk. On the surface, Tosha and Jessie could scarcely be more different. Tosha is a black scholarship student who attends a Washington, D.C. prep school and is focused on getting into Princeton. It's a long trip from the projects to suburbia, both physically and emotionally, but Tosha has the fierce support of her grandma (played by Leslie Uggams). Jessie is rich and white. Her life seems privileged, but her career-driven mom leaves her alone all the time. The girls first meet on the lacrosse field, where they quickly become competitors. It's soon obvious that Jessie's life is on a downward spiral; desperate for affection, she sleeps around and gets messed up on drugs. Abt's film is unusually well-crafted with strong characters who ring true because they're anything but PC. TOE TO TOE underscores the need for girls to stand up for themselves and each other. – B.B.