Big things certainly come in small packages.
“Roxy” is a short sports documentary released by Dutch Angle Pictures following the career of then Youth World Boxing Champion Iyana Verduzco. Verduzco, also known as “Right Hook Roxy,” surged to prominence in the 2018 Youth Boxing World Championships, securing a gold medal for Team USA in the women’s bantamweight division.
Gabriel Veenendaal, a film industry veteran with over 22 years of experience, directed “Roxy” with former student Robert Cruz. Veenendall says Cruz approached him with the premise for the documentary while Veenendall was his editing instructor at Colombia College Hollywood.
“This was a student idea they weren’t sure how to execute on. After they graduated, they still had a lot of interest,” said Veenendall. “I was kind of itching to get something done because, as an instructor, you always want to keep the creative juices flowing. Let’s get outside of academics for a little bit, and let’s go make something.”
Cruz was Verduzco’s cousin and recognized the potential in her story. Cruz’s unique proximity to Verduzco is reflected by the documentary’s heavy emphasis on family, serving as a prominent feature in “Roxy,” with many scenes capturing intimate moments between Verduzco and her mother.
Part of this story included distilling different sides of the young athlete’s personality. Veenendall says the dichotomy from dominating bruiser in the ring to loving daughter at home was one of the more memorable moments during production.
“It’s cool to see that people can, in some ways, flip that switch of competitiveness, but also they have a heart,” said Veenendall. “They’re a real person, they’re human and they’re able to show that.”
Veenendall says he’s drawn to sports-related subjects by nature. In his opinion, sports impart a unique sense of discipline to those involved through training and drilling, a lesson that applies to many industries.
Veenendall is no stranger to documentary film work and how the medium gives way to discovery. Veenendall considers this narrative style a powerful tool for exploring subjects others might not consider.
“There’s something kind of visceral about documentary filmmaking,” said Veenendall. “You can take real stories and discover how to use the medium to give a voice to those things that maybe don’t otherwise have one.”
In the documentary’s closing credits is a dedication to “Dolores,” Verduzco’s abuela (grandmother) who passed away in the time frame surrounding production. Veenendall says he found this attribution fitting as it characterizes the strong lineage and familial bonds that tie the Verduzco family together.
“It was dedicated to her because none of this happens without family,” said Veenendall.
Click HERE to watch Roxy now!