CSFF ’22 – Category: Woman

Category: Woman documents the long history of demeaning sex checks and now testosterone level tests that have put labels on female athletes with naturally high androgen levels. Like A Common Goal, it uses the sport of track to look at the athletes who have been diminished and questioned because of the unique abilities that help make them prominent runners. While not the focus of the film the beginning of the film and its interviewees reveal most of these cases have happened with Black or Brown women and these racial tensions only heighten the conflict between these athletes and the athletics federations allowed to regulate them. One of these women Annette Negesa a Ugandan Runner is the most noteworthy as her need to compete despite being banned after her testosterone level tested into male standards forced her to undergo a clitorectomy. This procedure had devastating effects on her health and seemed totally unnecessary considering the poor science behind the IAAF decision to ban her from competing.

The film tries to cover every question surrounding the scrutinizing of women in sport. What is female? Where?s the line between fair competition and a natural difference in biology? Is there an abuse of power coming from the controlling groups who govern sports and the world? The result is a film that has a lot to do with its limited runtime which was certainly running out of steam by the end. Still, its supplication of full thoughts from these athletes and well-utilized archive footage ensures the audience is informed about this issue. Its downside is that it lacks a strong central focus and story to carry this whole film with and it’s hard to find a great amount of connection and empathy with these women with their limited screen and speaking time. The pandemic and budget clearly affected the making of this movie as a lot of its interviews are shot through computer webcams and zoom audio. Hopefully, this film is effective in informing people about its message but maybe they should have waited to flesh out the story of one of these extraordinary athletes when they didn?t have to worry about COVID.

Category: Women premiered at CSFF 2022.

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