On the eve of Independence Day 2012, at 27, Kelsey Peterson lost her independence. It was after midnight when she dove head first into the dark waters of Lake Superior. By the time she rose to the surface she was unable to feel or move her dancer's body and the things that once defined her dissolved in the waters that forever changed her life.
Kelsey now lives as a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down. Needing to regain her purpose and following an urge to get her body back, she started down a path to help amplify the voice of a cure for the spinal cord injury (SCI) community, unexpectedly finding so much more. Living at the intersection between acceptance and hope, Kelsey seeks connection with her community and answers from some of the most brilliant minds in medical research, leading her to a cutting-edge clinical trial. Could an implanted electronic stimulator possibly restore some function and/or sensation? It isn’t something she would enter lightly.
And is dance something she has to leave in the past? She’s beginning to think it’s not...
With Kelsey at the helm as Director, this film challenges our view of disability and humanness, despite our differences, while exploring what is possible within our lives and the unknowns of modern science.
The U2FP Connection
Back in 2015, when Kelsey had joined Matthew Rodreick (now the Executive Director of U2FP) in his successful effort to pass $5M in SCI Research funding at the Minnesota state legislature (what would become U2FP's Cure Advocacy Network), she had an itch to take the movement to cure paralysis in a more personal and artistic direction.
Steady support from Matthew and U2FP has helped shape her conversations with researchers along the way, and better inform her process in shaping a film with impact.
During this process U2FP also partnered with Kelsey as the sole fiscal agent for the film's production fundraising efforts. 3 years later, Kelsey's hard work has paid off with exclusive funding from ITVS Open Call to fund post-production and finish her documentary.
About the Filmmakers
Kelsey Peterson, Director/Producer
Kelsey is a C6 quadriplegic, dancer, and advocate. She revels in creation and possibility. Kelsey received her BFA in Dance-Performance & Choreography from the University of Montana in 2008, and later her yoga teacher certification from CorePower Yoga. Her path was tragically interrupted when she sustained her spinal cord injury in 2012 and became paralyzed from the chest down. She has since been adapting to her new life, looking for grace and purpose from the wheelchair. Her advocacy work on the board of Get Up Stand Up to Cure Paralysis out of Minneapolis led her to her role as Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota, 2014. In 2015, she co-founded Out of the Chair, a program encouraging creative movement for people with disabilities, at Circus Juventas in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is currently working as lead Choreographer and Co-Director on a live music and dance production for differently-abled bodies titled, A Cripple’s Dance. Together with nonprofit Unite to Fight Paralysis, Kelsey is also working to develop a call to action for SUBMERGED to further unite and empower the Spinal Cord Injury community and help expedite functional recovery for those living with paralysis.
Daniel is the director and producer behind the two-time James Beard Award winning online documentary series, The Perennial Plate. Daniel, a former chef (Bouchon, Craft, The Fat Duck), and his wife and co-producer, Mirra Fine, have created over 170 short films around the world (with tens of millions of views and 9 vimeo staff picks). They also produced the most recent season (and the relaunch) of the national syndicated PBS Series, “The Victory Garden’s Edible Feast”, for which they were nominated for an Emmy. Their production arm has worked with such diverse clients as American Express, Equal Exhange, Whole Foods and Capital One. Their films have been shown in innumerable film festivals around the world and at the United Nations.
Eli is an Emmy Award winning film editor with a unique storytelling ability. Her extensive experience reaches into the feature film, documentary, non-fiction broadcast, and commercial realms. Eli won an Emmy for her work on “My Flesh and Blood” for HBO Films, which also won an Emmy for Best Documentary, and the Audience Award and Best Director Prizes at Sundance Film Festival. In 2014, Eli co-directed the documentary “’Stories from Tohoku” about the courage and strength of the survivors of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. “Tohoku” won a Jury Prize at the 2014 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and was featured on PBS. Other 2014 editing projects include “Heaven Adores You”, a documentary on singer Elliott Smith featured at San Francisco International Film Festival, and “3 Still Standing”, a documentary about the rise and fall of three San Francisco comedians. “Standing” was featured at the 2014 Mill Valley Film Festival. In 2015, Eli edited “The Nine”, a non fiction feature by acclaimed photographer Katy Grannan, and “Saving Eden”, a documentary by Oscar winning director Bill Couturie. Eli also edited the feature films, “And Then Came Lola,” a comedy, and “Mrs. Menendez” a feature length documentary for A&E Films. Other non-fiction television credits include “Sam Cooke: Crossing Over” for PBS’ American Masters, “Amelia Earhart” and “The Boston Strangler” for National Geographic, “True Life” for MTV, “Sports Wives” for A&E, and “Rocket Dogs” for Animal Planet.
Madeline Brown, Producer/Additional Camera Operator
Madeline is an adventurous aesthete. She received her BA from the University of Minnesota in 2010 majoring in both Art and Spanish and then went on to get her MFA in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2015. She has based most of her creative endeavors around travel and cultural exchange throughout Latin America and the U.S. Her work is fueled by human emotion and aspires to create poetry through image that illustrates strength, beauty and empowerment in her subjects.As a budding filmmaker, Maddy hopes to present important realities and weave together stories that impact the world.
Nico Bovat, Editor
Nico is a documentary editor from Cape Cod, MA. She discovered her passion for art at a young age, later receiving her BA in Interdisciplinary Fine Arts at Massachusetts College of Art & Design. Through her exploration of various storytelling mediums - including performance, illustration, fiber arts, and design - she was eventually drawn to the intuitive and sensitive nature of film editing. Nico’s work as an editor has been featured on PBS, NBC, Vice, The Atlantic, and Short of The Week, and has received 5 Vimeo Staff Picks. In 2019, Nico edited Quilt Fever, which screened at AFI Docs, DOC NYC, Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, St. Louis International Film Festival, and SXSW. Nico was also the editor and writer of the feature film, Somewhere with No Bridges, which is slated to premiere at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival and Salem Film Festival in 2020. Nico currently lives in Upstate New York with her partner and collaborator, Charles Frank, and their two cats Juicebox and Bubbles.