Top 20% of all time (see others with this rank)

Festival Year

2000 (click here to see all competition films from this year)


Dramatic Competition


Michelle Rodriguez, Jaime Tirelli, Santiago Douglas, Ray Santiago, Elisa Bocanegra, Paul Calderon

Non-Cast Credits

Karyn Kusama, Sarah Green, Martha Griffin, Maggie Renzi, John Sayles, Jonathan Sehring, Caroline Kaplan, Patrick Cady, Plummy Tucker, Stephen Beatrice, Teddy Shapiro


Blasting the screen with red-hot intensity and sure-footed confidence, Girlfight is a bravura reworking of the teenage rites-of-passage genre. Heralding a new femininity for a new millenium, the film's evocation of power has little in common with "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, making the debut of an astonishing young filmmaker.


Rebecca Yeldham (see other films reviewed by the same reviewer)

Film Takes Pace.