Cradle of Champions
Director Bartle Bull (2017) 100 Minutes
Winner of numerous awards internationally, including both Best Documentary Feature and Film of the Festival at the 2019 Manchester International Film Festival, CRADLE OF CHAMPIONS is the story of three young people fighting for their lives in the 2015 New York Golden Gloves—the oldest and largest amateur tournament in the world. The “Gloves” has produced more professional world champions than the Olympics, and director Bartle Bull delivers the story with “the nail-biting excitement of a fictional boxing movie like RAGING BULL,” delivering “both a stirring sports doc and a rich nonfiction drama,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Very, very powerful,” says the BBC’s Mark Kermode of this story of “universal themes through a very specific prism.” Assembling the most awarded team of cinema verité camera and editorial talent in decades, Bull creates “a new standard for character-driven documentary,” with “the excitement, powerful story arc, and unforgettable characters of a first-rate fiction film,” says Charles Donelan of the Santa Barbara Independent.
Titus Williams is a former Gloves champ who needs to clean up his legacy before going pro. James Wilkins is his younger rival, a punk who needs boxing to keep him off the streets—and make him a man. Nisa Rodriguez is a single-mother in the Bronx, fighting for that sustaining spark of light in a tough world.
Their story, shot by Oscar-winning masters of the verité craft with epic, cinematic beauty that often feels like a Hollywood feature film, “makes you cheer out loud while you’re sitting in a room by yourself,” writes Christina Newland in Little White Lies. “Bull’s character-driven approach works above and beyond the parameters of the built-in drama, and the heft of the emotion emanates from the humanity within it.”