Now What Presents: Fighter by Bugsy Steel

Third in our lockdown showcase is Fighter directed by Bugsy Riverbank-Steel, a hard-hitting sports drama about freedom of choice and the experiences of people with Down’s syndrome in the amateur boxing community.


‘Fighter’ – Short Film from BUGSY on Vimeo.

Ten minutes before a boxing match, a teenage boxer with Downs Syndrome fights for his right to get in the ring. The story unfolds backstage in the immediate moments leading up to the fight. Fighter finds himself torn between his over-bearing trainer, a sister who hates seeing him get hurt and a boxing committee unsure whether to sanction him to fight at all. Fighter screened at the BFI London Film Festival 2017 and at just seven minutes long, is a lean and tense short that reverberates far past its run time. The efficient and muscular script written by screenwriter and noir novelist Guy Bolton is brimming with character depth and the three at the heart of Fighter are not only nuanced but express contrasting voices for the story’s core question.

The lynchpin of Fighter is Tommy Jessop who plays the titular character. Whilst arguments about his welfare reach a crescendo around him, Jessop, the recently acclaimed star of Line Of Duty portrays the Fighter with rich complexity and subtlety, heartrendingly charting his emotional journey and the impossible choice he faces. DOP Jann Doppert lingers on Jessop’s face as he’s argued over and establishes Jessop as the grounding force in the flurry of stress and high tension around him.

Ultimately, this grounding is what the film’s about, the Fighter’s inner struggle for freedom and agency. Southeast London Director Bugsy Riverbank-Steel ensures that amidst the frenetic energy and pacing of the amateur boxing world, the Fighter is always centre stage and that whether he battles his Goliath or takes a step back, his decision is final.

Bugsy Riverbank Steel has shot many commercials for international brands such as Mitsubishi, Nissan, O2, Ryanair, Toyota, BMW, Mr Porter and Ford. As well as directing music videos with numerous successful artists including Bloc Party, Two Door Cinema Club, Ellie Goulding, Badly Drawn Boy and the Wild Beasts.

Tommy Jessop starred in a number of Television dramas (Doctors & Casualty), Radio plays (Archers & The Climb/Radio4) and stage productions at international renowned theatres such as the Globe & Phoenix Theatre as well as major Feature films (The Dammed United & Coming Down the Mountain). All of which has gained Tommy multiple acting awards and attention.


Insta – @bugsysteel
Twitter – @BugsySteel
Tommy Jessop Twitter – @tommyjessop


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