Thin Ice is an intriguing look at current teenage life in northern India. This documentary focuses on the efforts of a team of young Buddhist women to play in the National Ice Hockey Tournament. It starts in 2005 with the girls trying to take to the ice at the Tournament and getting thrown out by the tournament authorities. Thin Ice follows each step in the development of the team after being turned away from the 2005 tournament, from the recruitment of an American woman with a hockey background to coach the team, to a bus trip to a neighboring Muslim village to recruit more players, the practices as the team comes together, as well as the politics involved in getting permission to play at the National Tournament.
The story is done in a reality show format, switching between individual interviews with Dolkar, the Buddhist teenager who is the driving force behind the team, and shots of the group as they attend school, discuss recruiting the American coach, drive to the neighboring village to recruit more team members, or practice their hockey skills. The cinematography is well done, the surrounding scenery is gorgeous. The sound, lighting and editing are also well done. The music is wonderful, especially on the bus ride scenes after the games. Some of the weaknesses of the film are scenes that go on too long, such as fixing the hockey sticks or building the initial ice rink, and the final scenes where it is not clear what the conflict is when the team is allowed to play at the National Ice Tournament. There are English subtitles even when the students are speaking in English. I found some of the translations distracting and not quite accurate.
The film will be useful to anyone with an interest in contemporary teenage Northern Indian culture or women’s sports.