By Mack Olmsted, Asst. Production Editor/Asst. Arts and Entertainment Editor
Kendall Rodriguez’s film, “Born to Fight”, was shown by the Manhattan College’s Multicultural Center in collaboration with the Black Student Union on sunny wednesday, Feb. 15. However, there was no audience to appreciate the hard work that was put into the film.
Despite the lack of attendance from MC students, the event had brotherly ties. The Multicultural Center’s director, Hayden Greene and Rodriguez have known each other for many many years, and are a part of the same fraternity.
“Those fraternal lines and those college connections that you make, always come back and come back around that idea of who you know is always in the back of your mind,” Greene said. “Kendall has always been impressive to me in terms of everything from photography, all the way up to now his filmmaking. I wanted to showcase that here on campus and I just wish more people were able to see it but, I cannot compete with a 65 degree day,”
The Multicultural Center wants to express all kinds of different identities and create a home for everyone during Black History Month. One of their main goals is to show a differentiated view of the African diaspora. The center wants to showcase Black Filmmakers and give a different perspective through the film’s story.
The film, “Born to Fight” is about a young teenager, Ra-Leek born who boxes for a living. The film follows born and his father Ra-Tru going through everyday life as a teenage boxer living in a single-parent household. The born family is shown to go through many challenges and obstacles, but overcome the challenges every time with the support of a loving home.
This film was Rodriguez’s first time stepping into the documentary genre. He wanted to film a fighter for a while and then stumbled upon Eastern Queens boxing club in Queens village. Rodriguez asked to film a fighter and was directed towards Ra-Leek born.
Throughout the days that Rodriguez had been filming, he started to notice that there was more to than just him being a fighter. His dad was there every single day he practiced, along with his little brother. This opened Rodriguez’s eyes to a new perspective, he wanted to dig deeper and see what’s going on with the family structure with the borns.
“What you see in this film is a dedication from a single father to his two sons, and he’s there for them every step of the way,” Rodriguez said. “And that just kind of blew me away. So I just wanted to follow him and follow his progress to winning the fight the way that he wanted to win with his coaches.”
The film was a passion project for Rodriguez. He used his history of producing and writing short films, as well as his experiences from journalism school. He wanted to “put it into something useful.”
The original plan for the film was to be shot over the course of a month, however it was shot over the course of seven months beginning in October 2021 and finished filming last May.
“When you’re following somebody who’s trying to get to a certain point, it’s going to take time, it’s not going to happen overnight,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not going to happen over the course of weeks.”
Greene saw the film for the first time at the event and shared his thoughts with the Quadrangle.
“I thought it was great,” said Greene. “I think it’s beautifully shot. I was just telling Kendall as he sat down I think it’s beautifully shot… It was eye opening.”
While nobody attended the event, senior communication major with a minor in film studies, Sophie Ryan viewed the documentary on Vimeo. She shared her thoughts and opinions on the film through a film student’s perspective.
“‘Born to Fight’ is an incredibly heartwarming piece of documentary filmmaking,” said Ryan in an email. “In a short twenty minutes, it takes you inside the lives of a close-knit family and the passion for boxing that only brings them closer together. You can feel the passion and the care that went into this project from the beginning to the end. I would highly recommend the watch.”
As of now, Greene’s plan is to play the documentary in the Multicultural Center so that more students can get the opportunity to watch it. Rodriguez has submitted the film in the Hot Docs film festival in Toronto, as well as the Atlanta Docufest. If you want to see the “highly recommended watch,” you can find it on Vimeo under Kendall Rodriguez’s profile.