With This Ring is an independent documentary about the women who make up the Indian national boxing team. Filmed over the course of six years in four countries.
A Film By Ameesha Joshi & Anna Sarkissian | Featuring boxers Sarita Devi, MC Mary Kom and Chhoto Loura | Running time 87 mins | Country of origin Canada | Production 2006-2012 | Post-production 2013-2015 | World Premiere January 30, 2016
Our project started back in 2005, when Ameesha attended the World Press Photo exhibit in Montreal. She saw images of girls boxing on the beach in Chennai, India, by Danish photographer Miriam K.S. Dalsgaard. Growing up in an Indian household in Toronto, Ontario, she knew about the pressure young Indian women face to get married and how challenging it must be for them to pursue boxing.
After doing some research, she discovered that India not only had extensive boxing infrastructure for women, but also many international medals. At that point, she teamed up with Anna and flew to India for the 4th AIBA World Women's Boxing Championships, where the Indians made a clean sweep, winning medals in eight out of 13 categories. They became the number one team in the world.
With the help of numerous friends and volunteers, we documented the boxers' lives for the next six years.
Travels in India
The boxers spend most of the year at national training camps in various parts of India. We lived with them to document their lives and intense regimen.
Every month or so, they return home to their families. We followed boxers Sarita Devi and MC Mary Kom to Imphal, Manipur, in the northeast, and Chhoto Loura to Balsamand near Hisar, Haryana. We spent time in Delhi and Mumbai as well, interviewing athletes, coaches and officials.
We also ate incredibly well (maybe a little too well) and were warmly received by wonderful hosts along the way. They have this expression that a guest is like God. There's nothing quite like Indian hospitality.
The editing process
Logging and translation
We started by taking detailed notes about the 200+ hours of footage we collected. Ameesha worked with a huge team of volunteer translators to subtitle interviews in Hindi, Manipuri, and nine other languages. Our good friend (and talented filmmaker) Tamara Taddeo helped us begin to shape the film. With so many characters and locations, we could have easily made five or six different documentaries.
Along the way, we presented our project in classrooms and at conferences across Canada. We blogged for the National Film Board of Canada's CitizenShift (sadly it's no longer online) and spread the word using social media. The project was featured in Canadian and Indian magazines, newspapers, and websites.
In 2012, we started looking for an editor. Since this was our first feature and we had so much footage, we wanted someone with experience and the right artistic approach. We met with many exceptional editors but couldn't afford to pay the industry rates of $30,000-40,000. After searching for nearly two years, we found the ideal candidate. Only problem was, she was a little too good (and therefore booked solid). We decided she was worth the wait.
A long-distance relationship
We finally started collaborating with Jackie Dzuba in January 2014. Throughout the editing process, we were based in Quebec while Jackie was 5,000 km away in western Canada. We met on Skype to exchange ideas and we reviewed cuts via Vimeo. It took a long time and we faced many hurdles, but we made it. We finally met Jackie (and her assistant editor, Baybee, above), in July 2015 for the first time.