RINGSIDE looks at the dangerous, volatile world of Chicago’s South Side from the perspective of two remarkably gifted young boxers and the fathers who train them; as one begins a rising career in the ring, the other serves an eight-year-prison sentence for criminal trespass and burglary.
KENNETH SIMS SR. and DESTYNE BUTLER SR. have sacrificed everything in the interest of achieving the same goal: making their sons, KENNY JR. and DESTYNE Jr. boxing champions and thus breaking the vicious circle of poverty and violence that has held their families in a vulnerable state of economic uncertainty for generations.
It’s a fight against overwhelming odds – many try but few succeed – and there are a host of disappointments along the way. Kenny Jr. is crushed by his failed Olympic bid but with the help of Kenny Sr., he redoubles his efforts and starts winning amateur bouts which draws the attention of a well-known boxing promoter. The boxing career of Destyne Jr. gets put on hold when he’s convicted of burglary, which his father, Destyne Sr, addresses by campaigning to get his son into a prison-diversion Boot Camp program for first time offenders. This allows Destyne Jr. to get out of prison in four months rather than eight years, but only if he can withstand the rigors of the program, after which he could then restart his boxing career.
RINGSIDE is told from the point of view of these two young boxers and their fathers as they strive for success in and out of the ring. It is a story of grit and determination.
RINGSIDE follows these young hopefuls and their families over the course of eight years as they meet with success and failure, overcome hurdles and reach for ever more promising futures.
About the Filmmakers
Andre Hörmann is a LA-based documentary filmmaker who has received prestigious artist scholarships from German cultural institutions such as Goethe-Institut, Villa Aurora and DAAD and received five Awards of Exceptional Cultural Value of German FBW. Andre is currently in completing his documentary feature film Ringside, which will premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in February. In 2006 Andre directed the documentary short film Calcutta Calling which screened at many film festivals including IDFA, Silverdocs and the Chicago Documentary Festival. In 2010 he directed and produced the short film Father’s Prayer which screened at DOK Leipzig and Visions du Réel. He has directed several acclaimed shorts including: Loden, the Little Monk, Ari and the Day of the Dead, Tsering on Top of the World, Seanna - Alone in Hollywood and Sharukh- On the Road to Happiness which screened at DOK Leipzig, Toronto International Film Festival Kids (TIFFKids), Chicago International Children’s Film Festival (CICFF), Aspen Shorts and was broadcast on ZDF and ARTE. Bhavini I Only Want to Dance, Ari and the Day of the Dead and Andrew with Great Fanfare won awards at CICFF and Andrew screened at DOK Leipzig, Aspen Shorts, TIFFKids, BAMKids New York, and was broadcast on ARTE and RBB. In 2016 his latest documentary Crowley - Every Cowboy Needs His Horse screened at festivals including DOK Leipzig, IDFA, CICFF, was nominated for the prestigious German Children's Film Award and the European Children’s Film Award and was broadcast on ZDF. The follow up Crowley – Cowboy Up premiered at DOK Leipzig and IDFA. Recently, Obon, won the Best Animated Film Award at Krakow Film Festival, the „Große Klappe“ Award DOXS-Duisburg, Grand Prix Award Cinanima the Cinanima and has screened at festivals including Sundance, Doc NYC, Docaviv, Palm Springs Shortfest, Melbourne and Hiroshima. In addition to his work as a filmmaker, he is completing his PhD in Media Science, recently graduated from the UCLA Professionals Program in Screenwriting and teaches film at several universities.Andre is currently in production on the documentary feature film Ringside and participant at the UCLA Screenwriting Professionals Program.
Ingmar Trost founded Sutor Kolonko in 2010. The company produces documentaries and narrative feature films with a strong focus on international co-production and strives at being a point of departure especially for young writers and directors. Sutor Kolonko’s films include: the Cannes award-winning Sofia’s Last Ambulance by Ilian Metev, Houston, We Have A Problem by Žiga Virc, Donkeyote by Chico Pereira and The Chambermaid Lynn by Ingo Haeb and starring Vicky Krieps. Sutor Kolonko’s most recent releases include: The Raft by Marcus Lindeen (Winner Dox:Award CPH:DOX 2018), Teatro de Guerra by Lola Arias (Berlinale Forum 2018) and “3/4” directed by Ilian Metev, which had its world premiere at the Locarno Film Festival 2017 where it won the Golden Leopard of the Cineasti del presente competition. Current productions and films in development include: Rojo by Benjamin Naishtat, Ballad For A Pierced Heart by Yannis Economides, This Is Not A Movie by Yung Chang and and 1996 (WT) by Tom Schreiber. Ingmar is a member of the European Film Academy, an alumni of EAVE, Documentary Campus and EURODOC and was recently Germany’s Producer on the Move at the Cannes Film Festival.
Julie Goldman founded Motto Pictures in 2009. She is an Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning producer and executive producer of documentary feature films and series. She recently produced Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner One Child Nation directed by Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang which was acquired by Amazon Studios and Ringside directed by André Hörmann which just had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival. Julie is in production on The Apollo directed by Roger Ross Williams which will be the opening night film at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, Untitled Velvet Underground Documentary directed by Todd Haynes, and films by Maite Alberdi, Ramona Diaz and Ivy Meeropol. She produced Steve James’ Emmy Award-winning and Oscar-nominated Abacus: Small Enough To Jail, and The Final Year, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, was released by Magnolia Pictures and broadcast on HBO. Julie is the producer of Life, Animated and executive producer of Weiner, both of which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Life, Animated won the US Documentary Directing Award, was nominated for the 2017 Best Documentary Feature Academy Award, and won three Emmys, including the award for Best Documentary in 2018. Weiner won the US Documentary Grand Jury Prize and was shortlisted for an Academy Award. Julie executive produced the Emmy-nominated Facebook series Humans of New York, Emmy Award-winning, Oscar-shortlisted Best of Enemies, and several Emmy-nominated films: 3½ Minutes, Ten Bullets, The Kill Team, Art and Craft and 1971. Julie also produced and executive produced: Emmy Award-winning The Music of Strangers, Emmy Award-winning Solitary, Enlighten Us, Southwest of Salem, Gideon’s Army, Manhunt, God Loves Uganda, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry and Buck. Julie received the Amazon Studios Sundance Institute Producer’s Award and the Cinereach Producer’s Award.
Carolyn Hepburn is an Emmy winning producer who joined Motto Pictures in 2010. She recently produced Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner One Child Nation directed by Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang which was acquired by Amazon Studios and executive produced Ringside directed by André Hörmann which just had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival. Carolyn is in production on Untitled Velvet Underground Documentary directed by Todd Haynes, and a film by Ivy Meeropol. She executive produced Charm City, shortlisted for the 2019 Academy Award, and Love, Gilda, the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival Opening Night Film. In 2018, Carolyn produced Take Your Pills for Netflix which premiered at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival and Take Back the Harbor for Discovery as well as co-executive produced Inventing Tomorrow and The Cleaners, both of which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival premiere. She co-produced Life, Animated, which won three News & Documentary Emmys, the U.S. Documentary Directing Award at Sundance, and went on to be nominated for the 2017 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Carolyn executive produced Weiner, winner of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize and shortlisted for the 2017 Academy Award. She produced 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets, winner of the 2015 Sundance Special Jury Prize for Social Impact, nominated for an Emmy Award, and shortlisted for the 2016 Academy Award for Best Documentary. Carolyn executive produced Art and Craft, shortlisted for the 2015 Academy Award and Emmy nominated. Other recent projects include Humans of New York: The Series; Shadowman; Chicken People; and Indian Point. Carolyn is a member of the Producers Guild of America (PGA), British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), and the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS).
Vincent Assmann was born in 1976 in Heidelberg and grew up in Berlin, Jerusalem and Los Angeles. He started out as an Assistant Editor at the Berlin-based production company Atlantis Film and accompanied shooting trips to Portugal, France, Spain, Tunisia and India. In 2000 he went on to study at the University for Film and Television in Potsdam-Babelsberg from which he graduated with a diploma in Editing. He teaches documentary filmmaking to students at the Varan Workshop in Danang, Vietnam and to young offenders at the Berlin prison. In 2005 Vincent received the German Film Talent’s Award at the Film Festival in Hof for editing the documentary Behind The Couch. In addition to several short films, documentaries and music videos, he was the editor of Dietrich Brüggemann’s Nine Scenes (2009), Run if you can (2010) and Stations of the Cross (2014) which all premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival, the latter winning the Silver Bear. Vincent was the editor on a dozen award-winning theatrical features, among them Ceasefire by Lancelot von Naso (2009) and Veit Helmer’s Absurdistan (2007), Baikonur (2011) and The Bra (2018). In addition to that his work for TV includes mix of dramas, comedies, thrillers - and documentaries. In 2016, Vincent was awarded with the German Film Critics Association Award for best editing and the Film+ Editing award for best feature film.
German born Tom Bergmann is a Cinematographer for documentaries, narrative and experimental films. His recent works include the Academy Award nominated documentary: 'Abacus: Too Small to Jail' by director Steve James, the Academy Award nominated documentary 'Life, Animated', by director Roger Ross Williams and the feature length documentary 'THE KING' directed by Eugene Jarecki (the film premiered at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival). He was the Cinematographer for the HBO short documentary ‘Traffic Stop’ which was also nominated for an Academy Award earlier this year. Ongoing projects also include 'Ringside' by German director André Hörmann. Tom studied cinematography at the University for Film and Television 'Konrad Wolf' in Potsdam-Babelsberg/ Germany before he studied Art History in New York City. He has been a freelance Cinematographer for the past 15 years. His visual approach is a 'poetic-realistic' one – capturing verité moments by embracing the atmospheric tune of each situation. A deep interest in the subjects of his works produce strong filmic moments that gain deeper insights in people, situations and the human condition. Away from the loud and the blatant Tom aims to the little signs of transformation that will only come to awareness by a sustained study of characters over a substantial period of time.Besides his work as a Cinematographer, Tom exhibits his still-photography in various exhibitions. In recent years Tom worked on documentaries in India, China, Vietnam, Nepal, Uzbekistan, Russia, Mexico and Cuba.