Open main menu

Buffalo Girls is a documentary film about two eight-year-old Thai girls who engage in professional Muay Thai boxing in rural Thailand. The film was directed by Todd Kellstein and produced by Lanette Phillips and Jonathon Ker. It had its World Premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival on January 22, 2012.[1] The film was singled out in several previews of the festival, including those by the Los Angeles Times,[2] the Salt Lake City Weekly[3] and the Park Record.[4]Film critic Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times called the film "unexpected and fascinating."[5] The film received a favorable review in The Hollywood Reporter,[6] and was reviewed locally by Salt Lake Magazine,[7] and SLUG Magazine[8]

Buffalo Girls
Directed byTodd Kellstein
Produced byLanette Phillips

Jonathon Ker
Co-producer: Michael J. Pierce
Executive producers: Paul Rachman
Michael Raimondi
Noah Haeussner
Associate producers: Nopporn Jumpon
Takako Yagi

Charlie Lyons
Music byScott Hackwith
Edited byZimo Huang
Buffalo Girls Movie, in Association with Union Entertainment Group
Release date
January 22, 2012
Running time
64 minutes
CountryUnited States
With English subtitles



The documentary is an intimate look into the lives of two very young, professional Muay Thai fighters: Stam Sor Con Lek and Pet Chor Chanachai. At only eight years old, the two girls fight throughout rural Thailand to earn money to support their families, as well as trying to secure the 22-kilogram Muay Thai Championship belt of Thailand. The film also addresses the culture of children's fighting through interviews with the children's parents, the referees who officiate the fights, and the professional gamblers who bet on them.

The impoverished farming communities of rural Thailand offer few opportunities for economic gain and boxing is one of the few alternatives to the country’s commercial sex trade as a means of escaping the extreme poverty. Child boxers in Thailand can often earn a family’s monthly rent from a single bout, sometimes taking home more than what a farmer or factory worker earns in a month. For the film’s young protagonists, boxing is an opportunity to help their parents supplement the family income and improve their standard of living.[9]


Filmmaker Todd Kellstein was working on a documentary about Thai prisons when he came across children boxing in a rural province. Kellstein became enamored with what he saw and enlisted the help of producer Lanette Phillips and co-producer Michael J. Pierce to help finance the production of the film. What he thought would be a six-week project required a three-year stay in Thailand, in order to understand the culture, learn Thai, and earn the trust of his young subjects.[10] In researching the film, the filmmaker attend close to 300 fights in different provinces around the country.[11] Prior to Buffalo Girls, Kellstein’s film background was in directing music videos. It was during his time as a music video director where Kellstein met Phillips and Pierce, as well as Jonathon Ker, the films's other producer. Kellstein had worked with prominent artists such as Bon Jovi, but he went to Thailand looking for something else. He told the Los Angeles Times that, initially, he thought he was witnessing child abuse. During the process of making the film, however, he changed his mind and sought to create a balance in presenting the potentially controversial subject matter. [5][12]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Sundance: Critic Kenneth Turan spies some films to watch". 2012-01-19. Retrieved 2012-09-30.
  3. ^ "Slamdance Film Festival at Treasure Mountain Inn". 2012-01-22. Archived from the original on 2012-07-23. Retrieved 2012-09-30.
  4. ^ Park Record, January 17, 2012. Scott Iwasaki. “Slamdance Has Created Filmmaking Community.” Park City, UT.
  5. ^ a b "Slamdance 2012: 'Buffalo Girls' director fought for Thai boxing doc". 2012-01-26. Retrieved 2012-09-30.
  6. ^ "Buffalo Girls: Slamdance Review". The Hollywood Reporter. 2012-01-22. Retrieved 2012-09-30.
  7. ^ "Review: Slamdance's Buffalo Girls". Salt Lake Magazine. 2012-01-25. Archived from the original on 2012-07-16. Retrieved 2012-09-30.
  8. ^ "SLUG Magazine | Slamdance 2012 Coverage | Buffalo Girls". 2012-01-24. Retrieved 2012-09-30.
  9. ^ Page 2 of 2 (2007-10-09). "Page 2: How Young Is too Young to Be a Prize Fighter? - ABC News". Retrieved 2012-09-30.
  10. ^ Pirnia, Garin (2012-01-31). "Child Boxers Take Center Stage in Slamdance 2012 Documentary 'Buffalo Girls' - Speakeasy - WSJ". Retrieved 2012-09-30.
  11. ^ PETE SAMSON, US Editor (2012-02-10). "Boys and GIRLS of six fight for money in Thailand | The Sun |News". The Sun. Retrieved 2012-09-30.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  12. ^ 13 ∨ MSNBC

External linksEdit