A surly tomboy succeeds inside and outside the boxing ring in Nicaraguan documentary filmmaker Florence Jaugey’s serviceable but uninspired narrative feature debut, “La Yuma.” Far more confident and convincing when depicting young Yuma’s (Alma Blanco) work in the gym and ring than in the hackneyed plotlines involving her gang pals, her journalist beau and her hopeless family, the film reps a rare international play for Nicaraguan cinema in fests that have supported its development. Don’t bet on theatrical matches, but DVD and ancillary in Spanish-language markets appear promising.
Itching to get out Managua, Yuma is determined to make boxing her ticket out of town. In the meantime, she’s trying to distance herself from her longtime gang buddies and main squeeze Culebra (Rigoberto Mayorga), even as her mom has brought her lazy b.f. home. The script meanders from one part of Yuma’s life to another without much dramatic or cinematic shaping, leaving the excellent Blanco to deliver this portrait of a young woman working to make her future amid difficult conditions. A dalliance with university journo student Ernesto (Gabriel Benavides) is especially underdeveloped.