Walking up to the theater, I was not sure what to expect. This was my first time going to a film festival, and this one was extra special because a documentary film produced by my dad was to be premiered. We stepped out of the car and walked into a swarm of people. It was very hectic, but the crowds were somehow organized. My dad had to go inside of the theater first to get the press passes. He then motioned to my mom and me to come in. He gave us our passes, he introduced us to the production staff and cast members, and we took photos on the red carpet.
We then walked up the large, red carpeted stairs up to Theater One. We gave the usher our tickets and were directed into the reserved section. Since my dad was the executive producer, we got to sit with everyone who was involved in the film.
His film, “At the Heart of Gold,” investigates one of the darkest scandals in sports — the sexual abuse of hundreds of young gymnasts. The film reveals new and surprising information about the convicted Dr. Larry Nassar, those who supported him, and the toxic culture that led to the abuse. It also features an inspiring interview with Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who encouraged Nasser’s victims to speak out at his trial. Dozens of the survivors were sitting around us watching the film, holding hands and crying. They handed out boxes of tissues in addition to the popcorn and water bottles. Feeling the power and emotion of the sister survivors around me made the experience even more surreal.
I believe that documentaries on the topic of sexual abuse should be shown to high schools and colleges around the country. I got to meet many of the survivors and Judge Aquilina. Talking to them and getting to know them as people and not just survivors showed everyone that experiences as tough as the ones these young women went through are haunting, but they do not define their lives. These women came out strong.
If you get a chance, watch the HBO premiere of “At the Heart of Gold” this Friday, May 3rd! It is something you do not want to miss, and you will learn a lot from it.
All of the sister survivors have a huge place in my heart now, and I cannot wait to see the reactions after the documentary premieres to the public.