Before the Sundance Film Festival woked itself to death, it was the indie pathfinder and trailblazer — the greatest-ever springboard for American indie cinema. And in my 24 diligent years of covering that January celebration (’95 to ’18), one of the most exciting Sundance premieres was Karyn Kusama‘s Girlfight on 1.22.00.

A great boxing flick, a first-rate relationship drama and the film that launched Michelle Rodriguez, it won the festival’s Grand Jury Prize and the Best Directing Award in dramatic competition. Produced for $1 million, Girlfight‘s distrib rights were bought by Screen Gems for $3 million.

I saw a proud and tough feminist film, and one that could really connect with Latinas and women of color along with indie film fans.

Girlfight opened eight months later (9.29.00) and promptly flopped. Latinas and women of color stayed away in droves. After a five-week run it had tallied a total domestic haul of $1,565,852 plus a lousy $100,176 overseas. I’ve never understood why this happened. I’ll bet that a fair percentage of HE readers never even saw it.