Slamdance Film Festival

Director: Todd Kellstein

In this challenging documentary, director Todd Kellstein gives us a sympathetic look into the world of Stam and Pet, just two of the 30,000 professional Muay Thai fighters in rural Thailand’s underground child boxing circuit. Stam and Pet, both eight years old, are prodded into the boxing circuit by their parents, who use the large prize sums to support each of their families in a struggling farming community.

The sport of child boxing, a 700-year-old tradition in Thailand, may be offensive to American viewers—especially considering the massive amounts of money that stadiums full of spectators bet on the full-contact matches—although the U.S. has its fair share of child athletes, encouraged by zealous parents to compete in football leagues and karate tournaments. But in Thailand, Stam and Pet don’t compete on Sunday morning for fun—when asked why they fight, the girls have a unanimously simple answer: “For money.”

Both fighters are training for Thailand’s championship fight, a match that if won would provide enough money to change their lives forever. Brutal, jaw-dropping fight footage shows us just how much strain these girls’ tiny bodies are put through. Though this practice bordering on exploitation takes a physical and emotional toll on Stam and Pet, their indomitable spirits radiate off the screen as they participate in what has become a way of life and, for them, an economic necessity. Buffalo Girls provides stirring insight into the world of two strong young girls—a story that will stay with you for quite some time.

5 of 5 stars.