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Fighting for Wins Inside the Ring and Out in Born and Bred

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Born and Bred
Directed by Justin Frimmer
Purebred Films
Opens August 19, Quad Cinema

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By valuing the complexity of individuals’ stories over superficial competition drama, Born and Bred bucks the unwelcome nonfiction trend fostered by Spellbound. Focusing on three up-and-coming East L.A. pugilists—teenage twin brothers Javier and Oscar Molina, and 13-year-old adoptee Victor—Justin Frimmer’s documentary astutely casts tournament challenges as merely components of a person's larger tale, presenting heartfelt portraits of its subjects that validate clichés about the “sweet science” as a microcosm of day-to-day efforts to survive, thrive, and understand one’s self. In-ring struggles to succeed are conflated with the working-class Latino immigrant experience, with the desire to achieve assimilation visualized by the Molina brothers’ Stars and Stripes-decorated headgear. Shot and edited with the same clean efficiency displayed by its fighters, the film eschews didacticism in favor of non-judgmental empathy for athletes and trainers attempting to transcend class barriers, capturing over the course of five years a stinging sense of lost childhoods spent in service of a brighter future.

 
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