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UK / 2024 / 25 mins

Dir. Ira Putilova

Four members of a queer martial art club “Bender Defenders” in East London get together to celebrate their existence through conversations about the beauty of anger, the importance of trans and non-binary people in sports and joy as the main tool of resistance.


In a time of increasingly polarised attitudes which threaten the safety of queer and trans communities, this documentary follows the story of the “Bender Defenders” queer martial art club in London, which provides new skills and a place of belonging to their members. Although everyone comes to martial classes for many reasons, they have one thing in common - the desire to create their own queer world where they feel accepted, appreciated and loved.


Through personal and political conversations, four members of the club introduce us to the challenges the queer sports community faces, give us insight into usually obscured forms of queer joy, and invite us to share feelings of unconditional comradeship and internalised anger. It shows how tenacity, kindness and care create enduring connections in a world stained by individualism and visceral hostility.


The film is intended to celebrate physical and mental strength, but also a tender and joyful exploration of friendship, closeness and intimacy.

Luca Giraldi
Caroline Rogers 
Jill Leflour
Taliah Horner
Chris Opyrchal
Aisling Munn
and many others!


Directed and edited by:

Ira Putilova

Milo Beyts

Executive Producers:
Angela Clarke
Berwyn Rowlands
Brad Danks
Philip Webb

Made beautiful by:
DOP: Matt Mead 
2nd camera: Ezekiel Wallis
Colourists: Lee Twohey and Tom Alexander
Motion Director: Rob Hesp 
Digital Intermediate Consultant: Elliot Whitehead
Post Production Producer: Jamie Gilmore 
Picture Post Facility: Picture Shop 

Sounds amazing because of:

Composer and Sound Designer: Baby

Sound recordist: Julia Martin

Sound Mix: Alessio Festuccia  and Adam Gama-Davidson

Audio Producer: Ana QuirogaRe-recording

Mix facility: Company 3 

Thank you:

Catering: Mom’n’Pop Catering

Oil wrestling host: Velvet Caveat 

Outstanding poster: Emily Howard 

Writing: Ada Marcia Patterson 

published in


(“Rage will take you where you need to be”)


Special thanx:

Bender Defenders Team

Queen Athena Combat Club

The Pedro Club 

Nam Yang Brighton 

69 Drops Studio

The Jago


Emma Norton

Angela Clarke

Romain Beck 

Michael Graf

Sara Bonakdar

This project was funded by the Iris Prize Documentary Fund sponsored by 

FROOT and Aberystwyth University


Please, donate to the Bender Defenders club here:

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