One of the most buzzed-about films to emerge out of last year’s Tribeca Film Festival was “Catch the Fair One” from writer/director Josef Kubota Wladyka, who won the audience award for this relentless sex-trafficking thriller built around WBA champion Kali Reis. Her bruising performance has earned her a Film Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Female Lead.
Here’s the official synopsis: “Kaylee ‘K.O.’ Uppashaw, a mixed Indigenous boxer, prepares for a championship fight. Her hands are wrapped, gloves taped shut, and face greased. She pounds the mitts with her trainer, Brick. The room echoes with the strength of each hit. She’s preparing for the boxing match of her life. The crowd roars in the distance as the sounds crescendo into a fever pitch — Kaylee wakes up in a women’s shelter from a wishful dream of a life she once had. This is her reality. A boxer struggling to pick up the pieces of her life. After her shift working at a diner, Brick drives her to a clandestine rendezvous. They meet a P.I. who presents evidence that Weeta, Kaylee’s younger sister who disappeared two years ago, is possibly alive and circulating in a trafficking network. He tells her a time and place to plug herself into this dangerous world in hopes of finding her sister. Kaylee agrees and sets off on a dark and treacherous journey. Her strength and determination are tested as Kaylee fights the real fight of her life — to find Weeta and make her family whole again.”
From IndieWire’s review out of Tribeca, chief film critic David Ehrlich wrote: “Kaylee is an immediately engrossing character, both for the details of her daily existence — she sleeps in a crowded boarding house with a razor blade hidden inside her cheek for protection, and often wakes up to a small pool of blood around her mouth in the morning — and for the way that her body language speaks to a woman who’s struggling to define her own strength. In one scene she’s holding her own in a long-take sparring match that leaves no doubt about Reis’ actual skill, and in the next she’s walking into the group shower with the hunched guardedness of someone who’s hiding a secret injury.”
Ehrlich added that portions of Reis’ performance are “fraught with such careful shades of vulnerability, guilt, and self-doubt that it’s easy to imagine Reis excelling where the likes of Gina Carano could not (read: in the kinds of movies where her fists aren’t listed on the call sheet).”
The film will be released by IFC Films in theaters and on VOD on February 11. Exclusive to IndieWire, watch the trailer for the film below.