As the intro to this excellent documentary asserts, one small Caribbean island continues to dominate Olympic boxing. ‘Sons of Cuba’ explores the roots of that success, following a year at the Havana City Boxing Academy and a gang of pre-pubescent pugilists training for the under-11s national championships. Director Andrew Lang narrows his focus to three kids – one a poet, one a performer and one a hardened, thoroughbred blood-and-bone boxing superstar in the making. The sense of kinship between the kids and their caring, ambitious coach is deeply moving, as is the boys’ absolute commitment to their nation and its Commandante, Fidel Castro. But is their grim, ascetic existence really the only way to turn these boys into champions, or is this just a subtle form of state-sanctioned child abuse? Lang, wisely, refuses to judge, preferring to let this beautifully structured story of sacrifice, companionship, grief and glory speak for itself.
Friday March 19 2010