The Red Race is an up close and very raw look of how China trains her young children (boys and girls as young as 5 or 6 years old) in gymnastic. Highly recommended look of the inner workings of China’s gymnastic gold medals generating machines.
After watching the film, I didn’t mince words at all and basically call some of those coaches “practicer of Child Abuse” and should be punished by laws. I refuse to call the “multiple and deliberate tripping” of a 5 or 6 years old little girl by her female gymnastic teacher anything other than Child Abuse.
Here is the synopsis of the film from 2008 CIFF,
With the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the recent past, and the world’s focus on China, this tiny little film perfectly captures the paradoxes and myths of the Chinese Olympic juggernaut in its training regimes for children. Seeing the Machine’s toll on the small faces of exhausted, crying children is a revelatory snapshot of a nation’s insistence on dominance and a testimony to its poor citizens and their obligations to the state. The gymnastic children of The Red Race carry all of these expectations on their proud little shoulders and, through tears and injury, manage to maintain their dignity, striving above all else to make their parents proud and to realize their potential. Despite the slender odds and ceaseless criticism from instructors, they stand firm and behave well beyond their years to exemplify courage and perseverance. The Red Race is a fascinating study in Chinese methodology and gives us glimpses of golden Olympic obsession and the human costs necessary to achieve it.
Here is Variety’s review of the documentary (emphasis added),
China’s passion for gymnastics comes with an extraordinary human toll, says Gan Chao’s revelatory, often brutally unblinking documentary “The Red Race.” Though interest in the item will spike in the run-up to the Olympic Games in Beijing, the tender age of these mercilessly driven children and Gan’s cool, classical style ensure the pic’s relevance and shelf life whenever such competishes are mounted.
In general, I am allergic to too much nationalistic pride, be it Canadian, American, Chinese, etc. And when nationalistic pride was to be built on sacrificing the lives, dreams, and health of young children of any country, I think the price is too high to pay.
Here is a clip of scenes from The Red Race. Just look at the images as I have no idea of what language was spoken. It pains my soul to see some of these images not because the trainings are tough but because these children are way to young to decide what is right and what is wrong for them, and to me the coaches went too far deep into the territory of Child Abuse.