The Fight

Director: Barak Goodman
Screenwriters: Barak Goodman

Institute History

  • 2004 Sundance Film Festival


On June 22, 1938, though the Great Depression still lingers and another war looms, all eyes are on Yankee Stadium in New York where, beneath threatening skies, American Joe Louis and German Max Schmeling square off in the heavyweight championship of the world. More than ninety thousand people crowd the stadium to watch it, and countless millions more—the largest radio audience in history—tune in from around the world. The pressures faced by each fighter are enormous. Not only does the nation's honor rest on Louis's shoulders, but he quite literally holds the hopes and aspirations of all of black America in his fists. Schmeling enters the ring under the pretense that the fight will be a demonstration of Hitler's racial theories. Should he lose, many fear for what could happen to him.

Barak Goodman's expertly conceived and executed film is a riveting document that revisits this monumental match and recounts the astonishing events leading up to it. It also explores how both fighters overcame extreme adversity to become reluctant symbols of their people.

The Fight transcends most "sport" documentaries through its historical context and the captivating personas of the two athletes, and it will have you cheering and crying for a great American hero.

— Trevor Groth

Screening Details


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