Crash Reel

The dramatic story of one unforgettable character – Kevin Pearce; one eye-popping sport – snowboarding; and one explosive issue, traumatic brain injury (TBI).

In 2009 Kevin almost died training for the Olympics, but now he’s back on his board and he doesn’t want to quit. If he hits his head again he'll die – as tragically Sarah Burke does, in the same half-pipe in Park City where Kevin crashed.

In the military as well as in sports, Traumatic Brain Injury is THE issue of the decade. The average life expectancy of a retired NFL player is shockingly only 58 compared with the American male average of 75. TBI is the signature injury of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, caused by exposure to roadside bombs. And at least 5.3 million Americans have had a TBI serious enough to need long-term help performing daily activities. Yet many brain injury survivors today aren't getting the support they need.

These are the issues. But UNTITLED SNOWBOARDING DOCUMENTARY is also a gripping, seamless narrative film - character-driven, visual, inspiring. We tell the story of Kevin - a young man brimming with the possibilities of youth and dreams of an Olympic gold - and the tragic accident that forces him to confront issues of life, death and risk.

Risk, which for TBI sufferers takes on an added dimension. Statistics show that once you suffer one TBI you are four times more likely to have a second. Even a small blow could mean death, as happened with skier CR Johnson, who returned to his sport and died. Can Kevin make good decisions for himself when his brain is injured? Can he snowboard conservatively, when his body has the muscle-memory and the drive of a champion?

Like CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS, intimate family footage of a remarkable family proves riveting. Simon Pearce, Kevin's father, is the most famous glass-blower in the USA. His mother Pia is a model of exemplary parenting. Kevin's brother David, who has Down syndrome, steals scenes with his heartbreakingly direct words: "I don't want you to die Kevin, I can't live without you, and even if you don't die, do you think it's fair for Mom to take care of you for the rest of your life as she has these past two years?"

UNTITLED SNOWBOARDING DOCUMENTARY offers a ticket to ride in the fascinating world of pro-snowboarding, a truly memorable cast, a story that scales the heights and plunges the depths, and real uplifting power. Like HOOP DREAMS for basketball and DOGTOWN & Z-BOYS for skateboarding, this will be a touchstone film for snowboarding, celebrating its evolution from the humble beginnings of the 'Snurfer' to its status today as a breathtaking Olympic sport.

Through exclusive footage of Kevin's crash and recovery, as well as heartbreaking footage of Sarah Burke, this film digs deep into the journey of a brain trauma victim's recovery and shines a light on the camaraderie within the snowboarding community as it deals with the repercussions of Kevin's injury.

And ultimately the film becomes about HOW TO LIVE. In the drama of Kevin and the Pearce family's story lies a fascinating fable of how we make choices in this fragile life that we are each given.

Status

In production

  • IDFA Forum 2012
  • CPH:DOX Forum 2011

Production team