Director: Karyn Kusama
Screenwriters: Karyn Kusama

Institute History

  • 2000 Sundance Film Festival


Blasting the screen with red-hot intensity andsure-footed confidence, Girlfight is a bravura reworking of the teenage rites-of-passage genre. Heralding a new femininity for a new millennium, the film’s evocation of power has little in common with the “girly girl” pop maxims of Baby, Scary, Sporty, or Britney. Instead, our magnificent heroine, Diana, is sexy and streetwise, fronting an impenetrable defense against any hint of vulnerability. Drenched in sweat, emotion, and attitude, Girlfight is a beautiful portrait of a young woman who, in harnessing her brain and brawn, is able to reconcile with her past and embrace life on her own terms.

A high-school senior with a fiery temper and reputation for trouble, Diana lives with her brother and single dad, Sandro, in a housing project in Red Hook. Each week Sandro pays a local trainer to put some meat and muscle on his son, but when Diana decides she, too, wants to be a boxer, he refuses. With dogged determination, Diana begins a grueling training regimen and, under the loving tutelage of her trainer, becomes the gym’s first female champion. The discipline, cunning, and humility required to be a contender are the cold shower Diana needs to focus her ambitions. But when she falls in love with a promising amateur, her priorities are forced into burning focus.

Fueled by Karyn Kusama’s accomplished direction and newcomer Michelle Rodriguez’s fierce, nuanced performance, Girlfight is a work of tremendous ferocity, intelligence, and tenderness, marking the debut of an astonishing young filmmaker.

— Rebecca Yeldham

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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