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Persister: Women speaking up and being heard

When 18-year-old South African runner Caster Semenya burst onto the world stage in 2009, her championship was not celebrated, but marred by doubt, and her personal medical records leaked to international media. With some women's naturally high androgen levels deemed a performance advantage, the International Amateur Athletics Federation (now World Athletics) ruled that in order to compete, these female athletes must medically alter their healthy bodies. Category: Woman focuses on four athletes from the Global South who are forced out of competition by these regulations. The public scrutiny and policing of their bodies raises issues of racism, sexism and denial of their fundamental human right—who they are. Following up on her award-winning film Toxic Beauty, Phyllis Ellis exposes an industry controlled by men who put women's lives at risk, while this ongoing policing of women's bodies in sport remains, in a more nefarious way, under the guise of fair play. Alexander Rogalski


  • Director(s)

    • Phyllis Ellis
  • Producer(s)

    • Phyllis Ellis
    • Howard Fraiberg
  • Executive Producer(s)

    • Howard Fraiberg
    • Cheryl Staurulakis
  • Writer(s)

    • Phyllis Ellis
  • Editor(s)

    • Eugene Weis
    • Tiffany Beaudin
  • Cinematography

    • Iris Ng
  • Composer

    • Aaron Davis
    • Taku Matthews

Promotional Partners

Persister presented in partnership with

Oxfam Canada

With support from

City of Toronto

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