Directors: Autavius Smith
EL follows Ellie Apollo, a 13-year-old girl from Palmerton, Pennsylvania, as she pursues her passion for horses and her Olympic dream. Through hard work, and with her mother’s coaching and support, Ellie has achieved the rank of top junior equestrian rider in the country by The United States Equestrian Federation in the medium green pony division. The film follows El as she transitions from the pony to horse division, takes on more challenging classes, and continues to test her resolve to do what it takes to become an Olympian.
Directors: Sidney Beeman
Finding Home follows the journey of a young Burmese immigrant, Cing Khek, and her family as they search for opportunities to build a new and better life in the conservative stronghold of West Virginia. The film depicts the ethnic diversity of the Appalachian region, the economic forces causing people to migrate to this area, and the choices individuals make to stay within the region. At its core, the film empowers a diverse cast of Appalachian citizens to reclaim their own narrative in a region that is often dominated by stereotypes.
Made in America
Directors: David Lee & Tyler Klingenberg
As US Soccer seeks to become more competitive on the world stage, questions have arisen as to the role youth development plays in cultivating elite athletes ready to compete at such a high level of competition. Through the personal stories and coaching experiences of a father and son both dedicated to youth soccer, Made in America explores the culture of the soccer in the U.S. and examines how development academies and pay to play practices have impacted both the sport and its players.
Pain into Passion
Director: Brandi Hall
Pain into Passion is a story of loss, hope, and forgiveness. In 2018, 19-year-old University of Maryland football player Jordan McNair tragically died from heat stroke after falling ill at a summer workout. Since his death, his parents have been on a mission. Through a foundation created in Jordan’s name, they are doing the work many would shy away from after such a gut-wrenching loss in the hopes that another family, friend, or football player will not experience the anguish of losing a loved one to heat stroke. Pain into Passion is an emotional exploration of how a family moves beyond loss to save the lives of many others and moves toward forgiveness of one they once held responsible for their son’s death.
Return to Planet Death!
Director: JP Romney
In the fall of 2021, documentarian JP Romney returned to Brigham Young University to participate in the main-stage production of Escape from Planet Death! Since graduating from this Mormon-run and operated school in “Happy Valley,” JP has left the religion. From ideas about appearance, alcohol, sex and cursing, JP couldn’t be more different than the BYU students around him. Returning to his alma mater will be an exercise in laying low and blending in. Because real Mormons can’t accept an apostate like JP, right?
Welcome to Return to Planet Death! a five-part audio series documenting one person’s quest to re-integrate and re-assimilate into a community once left behind and what he learns along the way.
Strength in Weakness
Directors: Carter Cook & Colton Streitmatter
Strength in Weakness examines the importance of having open and honest conversations on mental health and sheds light on the influence that athletes can have, for better and for worse, on our society’s approach to those conversations. The film looks at the way jock culture helped to shape the thoughts of Colson Streitmatter, a lifelong athlete and sports fan, on what it means to be mentally tough, and at the difficulties he endured in high school when he adopted the “play through the pain” mentality he assumed his sports heroes held. Through the lens of personal experience, the film encourages young athletes and sports fans to find true strength by engaging in authentic conversations about their weaknesses.
We Are Still
Directors: Jordyn J. Bennett & Zach Clark
We Are Still examines the decision of North Carolina A&T, the largest historically black college or university (HBCU) in the United States, to leave the HBCU-filled Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and move to the Big South Conference comprised of mostly predominantly white institutions (PWI). Leaving the MEAC is seen as move that will provide better opportunity for A&T’s athletic programs and open doors for the Aggies to prove they are more than just “good for a Black school” — but at what cost? With the MEAC at the heart of HBCU athletics, does A&T leave behind its traditions and history with it? We Are Still shows what it means to have Aggie Pride, as coaches, former players, school officials, and members of the media speak to what A&T is all about and looks to answer a question that has followed Black people as they try to make it in a society that wasn’t built for them: Does progress destroy culture?