Gaea Girls

English (subtitled), 106 min, 2000, UK

A fascinating look at the physically grueling and mentally exhausting training regimen of Japanese women wrestlers who aspire to be part of the much-coveted Gaea Girls.
 
The film takes us inside the Gaea training camp, a homegrown version of the World Wrestling Foundation – no fancy martial arts and sumo moves here –  where we  meet several young recruits including Wakabayashi, who ran away the first time around.
 
Sato, a spindly 16 year old, has waited patiently to join for 3 years; Nagayo Chigusa, the shock-haired, pugnacious fighter in charge of the training camp; Sato is routinely humiliated by Nagayo and reduced to a snivelling, bloodied wreck when it is all too evident that, in sparring bout after sparring bout, she lacks sheer bodyweight and strength.
 
The film attempts to understand those who would go against Japan’s apparent preference for all things demure and restrained, where women are concerned.

 
Producer:
Vixen Films
 
Creative Crew
Camera:
Kim Longinotto
Editing:
Brian Tagg
Sound:
Mary Milton
 
Awards and Screenings:

 
Silver Hugo, Chicago International Film Festival
Special Jury Mention, AFI Film Festival
Best of Festival Selection, Edinburgh International Film Festival
Toronto Film Festival
Berlin International Film Festival
San Francisco International Film Festival
Margaret Mead Film Festival
Double Take Film Festival
Sheffield Documentary Film Festival
Doclands, Dublin
Cork, Ireland
Rencontres Internationales de Cinema a Paris
Double Take Documentary Film Festival
Sydney Film Festival, Australia
Taipei International Film Festival, Taiwan
DocAviv, Israel
Hong Kong International Film Festival
Munich Documentary Festival
Films de Femmes, Creteil, Paris
Sao Paulo International Film Festival, Brazil
Singapore International Film Festival