Directed by: Matthias Salzburger
Written by: #MatthiasSalzburger
Portrayals of identity struggles are often combined with a physical conflict in the story in order to parallel the fight for freedom.
This is no less evident than in filmmaker Matthias Salzburger’s ferocious short film I am Mia in which a transgender boxer attempts to overcome the prejudices of her sport and gain the acceptance of her daughter and those around her.
Julene Robinson plays the titular Mia, a woman who underwent surgery to become female. Now a rising star in the world of female boxing, she has to take punches in and out of the ring whilst she attempts to pursue her passion. The most distressing of her concerns, however, is not the looming fight with a formidable opponent (Amelie Leroy) but the tense relationship she now has with her daughter Anita (Kaya Bayley-Hay), unsure whether or not she will be in her corner, so to speak.
Stylishly filmed and full of powerful themes and fighting sequences, I am Mia is an impressive and moving film.
It’s a movie that applies tenderness when needed, whilst not pulling its punches when it comes to delivering the meat of the story. Mia’s struggle is depicted with an authenticity that roots the movie in the boxing genre splendidly, whilst exploring the #LGBTQ topics. It was refreshing to see a story about a strong black transgender character done within a sport movie, a genre often riddled with clichés and hackneyed characterisation.
I am Mia was reminiscent of a wonderful short movie I reviewed for the BFI London Film Festival last year called Fly, in which a rising star in the rap world explores her identity. The movie dealt with gender disparity and class/social status in a really unconforming way. Likewise, Salzburger’s film, whilst slightly more conventional, does throw many of the overworked elements of boxing movies out of the ring in favour of aspects that have heretofore not appeared.
There are a few wobbles with the short, which is a shame because so much of it is excellent. The delivery from Bayley-Hay was a little wooden, robbing some of the scenes of their emotional potency, and the fighting itself was played quite safe. Instead of punches landing with a smacking blow they seemed to flow onto each of the fighters. With a more aggressive choreography, these could have been the knockout punch to make I am Mia exceptional. As it is, however, this is still a phenomenal short with bulging cinematic muscles and a heavy-hitting depth to boot.
Watch the official movie trailer below.