“Who will be the King of New York?” That’s the question posed at the beginning of director Brian Kazmarck’s short film Standing Eight (2016), as we meet boxer Dusty Abrams (Kazy Tauginas), preparing for a heavyweight bout against Quinn Durbin (Quincy Chad).
Standing Eight (2016): A fight in and out of the ring
Abrams collapses during training and it’s not long before he is in the midst of another fight outside of the ring. A visit to the doctor reveals he has Lupus, an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue and organs. Treatable, but incurable. Life changing and career threatening.
The film is a personal piece for lead actor Tauginas, having witnessed the effects of Lupus in his own family. Tauginas (also a credited producer and co-writer on the project) does an excellent job of portraying someone who has had the rug pulled out from underneath them.
Though supported by his girlfriend, Skylar (Courtney Cavanagh), Abrams struggles to come to terms with his diagnosis. In turns frustrated, angry, in despair and in denial, Tauginas’ sensitive performance carries much of the film’s 27-minute running time.
A microcosm of living with Lupus
Alongside raising audience awareness of a largely unfamiliar disease, I thought Standing Eight (2016) also aims to subtly challenge the stereotype of the male tendency to act as if there isn’t a problem; to carry on as normal. This is conveyed through the prism of the combative, bravado-filled world of heavyweight boxing, where any sign of weakness is exploited. Abrams is aggressively challenged by his opponent, who claims he is fabricating his illness to duck the fight. Symbolic, perhaps, of the challenges and obstacles of living with Lupus.
The journey is just beginning for Abrams as the film approaches the end of its running time. Standing Eight (2016) is an informative, sensitive and thought-provoking work that encourages the viewer to learn more about its subject matter whilst cheering on its protagonist in the fight of his life.
IMDb score: 9.5 | Film Forums: 7.5
Teacher. Musician. Writer. Fascinated by film. Co-creator of Janus Film Review.