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Girl Wrestler
A film by Diane Zander
2004, 53 minutes, Color, DVD
Order No. W05857
GIRL WRESTLER follows 13-year-old Tara Neal, a Texas teenager who upsets traditional expectations by insisting that girls and boys should be able to wrestle on the same mat. Zander follows Tara through a crucial period in her wrestling career—the last year that she is allowed to wrestle boys under state guidelines. When Tara enters high school, her opportunities to compete will virtually disappear because so few girls wrestle. Over the course of the season, she deals with family conflicts, pressures to cut weight and fierce policy debates over Title IX.

Tara represents a modern kind of girlhood, one that physically embodies feminism by literally placing girls into grappling competition with boys. This eye-opening film shows us how the gender roles we have constructed affect real adolescents as they crash against the boundaries of those norms. Ultimately, Tara’s story is a direct and immediate chronicle of such broader cultural issues as the social construction of masculinity and femininity, athleticism and eating disorders, gender discrimination in organized athletics, and the meaning and value of sport in American culture.


  • Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival
  • South by Southwest Film Festival
  • Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
  • Dallas Video Festival
  • Athens International Film and Video Festival
  • Memphis International Film Festival
  • Northampton Independent Film Festival
  • LadyFest East Film Festival
  • Frameline - San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Film Festival
  • Go Girls! at Symphony Space

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    “An empathetic and subtle portrait of a teenaged girl’s athletic passion.”
    David Fellerath

    “This film is very closely aligned with our organizational values and mission. It raises extremely important issues for today’s girls. Thanks to Diane Zander, the cause for women’s sports will be advanced one step further.”
    Girls Inc.

    “The great strength of Girl Wrestler is the way that it bridges a more abstract feminist film theory and practical and political and social issues such as Title IX and eating disorders. The issues it raises are wide ranging and the film is well-suited to several venues including educational institutions…public television and screenings at public libraries.”
    Karla Oeler
    Emory University

    Recommended...illustrate[s] the barriers that continue to exist for young women in sports in the United States...Will keep the interest of junior high athletes…[with] the potential to create empathy among male athletes for their female counterparts. “
    Educational Media Reviews Online

    “Entertaining and thought-provoking… a model for independent documentary filmmaking in media departments, as well as in classes that focus on issues of gender, health, teen development, and history.”
    Sharon Ross
    Columbia College, Chicago

    “A must-see for courses in sociology, women’s studies, and sport studies.”
    Leslie Heywood
    Author of “Pretty Good for a Girl”

    “A marvelous portrait of determined, and very intelligent, young lady trying to overcome society’s roadblocks.”
    Philadelphia Inquirer

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    Girl Wrestler is included in the following Special Collections.
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WMM offers film collections on a variety of specific subject areas, including the collections VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: Ending the Silence, BODY IMAGE, and AFRICAN-AMERICAN: Celebrate the Lives of African-American Women.

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© Women Make Movies, 2005
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Women Make Movies is a multicultural, multiracial, non-profit media arts organization which facilitiates the production, promotion, distribution, and exhibition of independent films and videotapes by and about women. contact us