Dragon Girls

Director(s): Inigo Westmeier
Country: China, Germany
Language: Chinese w/ English subtitles
Documentary | 2012 | 71 min
Recommended for ages 10+ (Parental Guidance: Feelings of abandonment, deep depression, physical injury)

This documentary follows three girls and their lives at the martial arts school Shaolin Tagou, China’s largest Kung Fu School. Far from their families, they fight an everyday battle of discipline, rules and hard physical training. Kung Fu provides them a chance to provide for their parents in the future and lead a better life—but at what cost?

The Shaolin Tagu Kung Fu School, located next to the Shaolin Temple Monastery—the birthplace of Kung Fu—is home to some 26,000 students. In a breathtaking display of skill and precision, the entire student body practices their discipline en masse and in perfect unison, captured beautifully by Inigo Westmeier’s camera. DRAGON GIRLS follows three young female students living far from their homes and families. They sacrifice the luxuries of childhood, like days off, playtime and seeing their parents, for the honor and success they will gain from their training. The physical and mental exhaustion and constant drive for perfection weigh heavily on the young warriors in training, yet it’s hoped that by graduation the gain will have been worth the struggle.

Winner Best International Feature Documentary Award, Hot Docs 2013