A boxing ring with illuminated ropes sits vacant in the middle of the forest. It is this powerful image that ushers in Caroline Monnet’s portrait of Chippewa female mixed martial artist Ashley Nichols. Using black and white visuals to get to the raw essence of Nichols, Emptying the Tank is a documentary that aims to educate and inspire.
As the audience observes Nichols going through her training routine, the fierce fighter explains how martial arts and exercise helped her get into a better space both physically and mentally. Linking the ceremonial traits of Muay Thai with the spiritual rituals of her own Chippewa ancestry, Nichols effectively displays the unifying nature of fitness.
Emptying the Tank may not be as kinetic as Monnet’s previous short Creatura Dada, but that does not mean it is any less visually striking. Whether presenting close ups of Nichols tattoos, or showing sweeping aerial shots of the athlete running barefoot up hills, Monnet’s keen visual eye is as impressive as ever. She presents a graceful and resonating film that never feels energizes the viewer. Nichols may want to prove that women can succeed in mixed martial arts, but her inspiring nature goes far beyond the ring.
Screens as part of Short Cuts Programme 05:
Sunday, September 9, 7 PM, Scotiabank Theatre
Saturday, September 15, 6:30 PM, Scotiabank Theatre