Catch the Fair One – Tribeca Film Festival
Kali “K.O.” Reis, The Wampanoag Warrior, is the first Native American fighter to win the International Boxing Association middleweight crown. She fought in the first female boxing match ever televised on HBO. She is currently the WBA Super lightweight champion. Kali’s given name is “Mequinonoag,” which means “Many Feathers, Many Talents” in the Algonquian dialect. She said the strength and wisdom of Indigenous Women leaders and ancestors runs deep within her warrior veins.
There’s beauty in the struggle.
A leading lady in the ring, she is now also making her debut as the leading actress in Catch the Fair One, a taut thriller and second feature for Tribeca “Best New Narrative Director” winner Josef Kubota Wladyka.
In this film, Reis plays a former boxer, Kaylee “K.O.” Uppashaw, who falls from grace after her younger sister, Weeta, goes missing. Weeta has been missing for two years when a private investigator tells her that her sister might still be alive. Some who matches Weeta’s description is circulating in a trafficking ring. Kaylee then sets off on a dark and treacherous journey. Her strength and determination are tested as she fights the real fight of her life — to find Weeta and make her family whole again.
A fight for all
While the character is fictional, the theme of this film provides a raw and emotional setting that hits home for Reis on a personal level. K.O.’s real-life experience and activism shaped and formed the script. She has spent years working with at-risk girls, traveling to reservations telling her life story, and meeting people who have lost loved ones from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) epidemic. Her motto is “Fight4all Nations,” and she uses her platform for issues she cares about, especially the MMIW movement.
Reis says, “As a boxer, I put my heart and spirit into using the “medicine” given to me by the CREATOR through the art of battle in that squared circle. Fighting has turned into a ceremony, “my prayer” representing ALL NATIONS, doing what we Indigenous people have done for centuries–fight and survive.”
Alongside director Josef Wladyka, Kali Reis delivers a performance that is equal parts beautiful and devastating in Catch the Fair One. From Reis, Wladyka learned that the trafficking practices of today hark back to things in the past, especially forced assimilation, boarding schools, and extortion. It’s a deeply complex issue, and he feels that we need to understand the past to help deal with it in the present.
When asked if there was a standout memorable moment while filming, Wladyka said that he asked K.O. if there were any songs she remembers from her childhood on the last day of the shoot. She started humming a lullaby her mother used to sing to her. They went into a quiet room with their sound mixer, M. Wolf Snyder, and recorded Kali singing the song. The film ends with K.O. singing this song. Sadly, Wolf passed away this March. His craft with music and sound is now memorialized in this film.
The Catch the Fair One credits end with the notation, “For Wolf.”