Netflix’s “Bruised” film premiers at the AFI Fest- November 2021

Netflix’s “Bruised” Premiere on Saturday, November 13, 2021, Hollywood, CA        Written by Roger Lim
Halle Berry’s much-anticipated directorial debut, Bruised, premiered at the historic TLC Chinese Theater in Hollywood last Saturday, November 13th at the 2021 AFI Fest, with a live, in-person red carpet premiere.
Berry also stars in this film which focuses heavily on the spiraling adverse effects of once up-and-coming MMA fighter, Jackie Justice, who horribly loses her title match in a bloody battle several years before- nearly taking her life, but costing all her dignity in the process.
The setting begins with the long-retired Justice, currently in a relationship with her ex-fight manager (played by Adan Canto) focusing on their deepening abusive, dysfunctional and demon-filled encounters.
But after a chance display of fearlessness and viciousness in front of the world’s most powerful fight promoter, Immaculate (played by Shamier Anderson), Justice gets a chance to get back in the ring, but only after mustering the courage to seek out highly-respected MMA trainer, Bobbi Buddhaka Berroa (played by rising star Sheila Atim).
However, when Justice is forced to deal with the reintroduction of her then-infant son (beautifully and subtly played by Danny Boyd Jr.) given up years before, the pair must now come to terms with ongoing post-traumatic struggles stemming from their misfortunate pasts.
Written by Michelle Rosenfarb, this truly gritty and inspiring sports drama revolves around the psychological, spiritual and mental toll of intensifying family crises, lost loved-ones, and untimely romance — all interwoven through the endless physical challenges associated with being a top notch world-class athlete. 
The intense and agonizing final act features the world title match between Jackie Justice and Lady Killer (played by real life multiple-reigning UFC Women’s Flyweight Champ Valentina Shevchenko), which climaxes in unexpected fashion.
Berry convincing portrays the grueling, hard-hitting, and physically demanding training regimen of a professional MMA fighter. She gracefully delivers a unanimous win on screen as both actor and director, instantly placing her in a small, but growing class of colleagues successfully able to simultaneously  garner great performances from herself as well as her entire supporting cast and crew.
The well-rounded ensemble also features Adriane Lenox, Nikolai Nikolaeff, and Stephen McKinley Henderson. The film was beautifully shot by Director of Photography Joshua Reis, and dramatically scored by Composer Terence Blanchard.
After the screening, famed director Ava DuVernay moderated a discussion of Berry’s challenges from script to screen. Berry elaborated on her great efforts to not only reimagine the role written for a 20-something Caucasian woman into her own 40-something, non-white demographic, but to also seek out her perfect director for the project.
When no other viable candidates surfaced, Berry became the obvious choice by her producers to helm the project as well as star in it.
Berry credits her success to surrounding herself with the highest caliber professionals she could find both in front of, and behind the camera, so that each collaborative team would allow her the freedom and creativity to always be at her very best.
An emotional Berry, finally able to sit down to reflect back on her amazing journey, described this very evening as “…One of the greatest moments of my life.”
Bruised is likely to win you over, the underdog sports drama will leave you inspired.
Opening wide in theaters on November 24, 2021, Bruised will be extremely tough to pass on for upcoming awards season consideration.
This year’s hybrid 2021 AFI Fest ran from November 10 thru 14 included 118 titles (51 features, 1 episodic, 49 shorts, including 19 Meet the Press Film Festival at AFI FEST shorts and 17 AFI Conservatory Showcase shorts) of which 51% were directed by women, 39% were directed by BIPOC and 13% were directed by LGBTQ+.
This year’s program represented 53 countries and included 7 Red Carpet World Premieres with IMDB, National Geographic and Netflix as this year’s festival sponsors.