This is Me? is a documentary project that follows Matthew Sanford—an American paraplegic yoga instructor—and the students whose lives he changes, one breath at a time. Interested in supporting? We're supported by the International Documentary Association. Click here for more information.
Yoga has been practiced, studied, and espoused as transformative for several thousand years. But yoga practiced this way—by the injured, infirm, emotionally lost—and taught by a man who can only use half of his body, is radical.
When he was 13, Matthew was paralyzed in a gruesome car accident that claimed the lives of his sister and father. Told by doctors to “forget about his legs,” Matthew struggled. Like so many thrown into a circumstance beyond his control, Matthew grieved, grew bitter, and lashed out at the injustice of the world. Then in his twenties, with nothing to lose, he tried yoga and found a way to reconnect with his paralyzed limbs. He is now a single dad and yoga instructor, working tirelessly to help other people reclaim their broken bodies and rebuild their lives.
Angelique is a 40 year-old acrobat who's dramatic fall in the gym led to her paralysis. Matthew not only inspires her to regain some function in her legs and the independence to live alone again, but he helps restore her will to live a full life.
This is Me? - Ep 2 tease - Burness
Burness Britt is a 22 year-old Marine Corporal on patrol a few weeks into his first deployment in Afghanistan. He is walking through a wheat field with his platoon when they are hit with an IED a few yards from their path. Shrapnel from the blast severs his carotid artery. A month later, Burness wakes up from a medically-induced coma. He is severly traumatized, partially paralyzed and unable to speak. While attending a mandatory rehabilitative yoga session at Portsmouth Naval Medical Hospital, Burness meets Ann Richardson, a colleague of Matthew's who calls on Matt to help her reach this severely wounded and extremely reluctant Marine.
This is Me? - Bruce tease - Ep 3
Bruce was never held back by anything until he was held back by everything. What started as a subtle tingling in his hand quickly became debilitating paralysis - ALS. Not only was he facing a death sentence far before he had ever expected it, but this strapping man, head of the household and university dean was withering before his own eyes. Matthew's methods help him regain some sense of control and ownership over his body, allowing him to slow the onset of the disease and prepare himself and his family for the inevitable.
The Thing That Happened
South of the Nile River, near the remote trading center of Bweyale in Northern Uganda, sits the tiny campus of Hope North Vocational and Secondary school. With no phone, Internet or reliable transportation, the school is an island in a vast sea of African bush. The students here are a mix of former child soldiers, orphans and abjectly poor kids, displaced by the 22-year old civil war in Uganda between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UDPF). The teachers are mostly rookie educators fresh out of Ugandan universities - some of whom look not much older than the kids. Their teaching tools amount to little more than their own wits and a scattering of out-dated textbooks. With seldom enough money to pay the staff, house the kids and buy school supplies, operating the school is a juggle of compromises. But deficiencies or not, the school is the only chance these kids have to escape their tragic histories. Embedded within this story of tenuous survival at a small school in the African bush is a larger exploration of a powerful concept... the concept of hope. The film played at film festivals worldwide, winning the Grand Jury Prize at the United Nations Film Festival.
PBS - Arctic Son
In the tiny town of Old Crow, 80 miles north of the Arctic Circle, a father and his son are reunited after almost 25 years apart. They share a name and a bloodline, but the worlds they know and the lifestyles they lead are as different as their respective hometown climates. Stanley Sr. is a hunter, a man of the land steeped in native traditions. Stanley Jr., who has been raised by his mother in Washington State, immerses himself in hip-hop music and video games, and is drifting deeper into drugs and alcohol. After a lifetime apart, the two meet again in the raw, quiet beauty of the Canadian Yukon. The New York Times hailed the film as having, "...a tension that never really fades." The film premiered at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, played at festivals worldwide and aired on PBS' POV program.