20-year-old film student Alex Poutiainen entered this short film into a contest looking for a new TV series in Canada, choosing the Astoria Boxing Gym in Vancouver as his subject. The result is below.
Alex also told me a bit about the film, and why he chose the subject.
"I spent weeks at the gym chatting, shooting, and praying for something to emerge. One day, the coach Dave said something I'll never forget: 'Almost every one of those guys from [when he started coaching] is either dead or in jail,' and I fully understood his focus on building healthy individuals outside the ring. This was something which hit home after muay thai changed my life for the better, and I knew that people needed to see the nurturing side of combat sports and martial arts which is often forgotten.
"The club has been around since 1966, and got the name Astoria because it was in the basement of the Astoria Hotel in Vancouver's downtown east side. It produced two Olympians (Manny Sobral and Dale Walters), some Commonwealth Games fighters, as well as many Canadian champions. Over the years, the area had major economic problems and became what the media calls "the poorest postal code in Canada". Parents of the kids in training started getting nervous, and the club has been moving from temporary location to location for the past few years. It finally has a permanent venue secured for next year and membership continues to grow. Astoria fights on."
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