STRONG!

DIRECTOR: Julie Wyman

Expected guests: director Julie Wyman, subject Cheryl Haworth

Castro muscle bears have nothing on three-time Olympian Cheryl Haworth! “It takes mass to move mass.” That’s what Cheryl, an Olympic Weightlifter who holds the records as the strongest woman in the western hemisphere, has to say about her size. Cheryl is a big woman—a big, strong, healthy woman—and her effervescent gravitational pull far exceeds her size.

Cheryl’s vitality and wit shine through in the first half of the film. In the second act, injury and self-doubt coincide with concerns about her body. What she once saw as a tool for succeeding in the sport she loves, she now sees as a hindrance to a life of love and attraction. Like so many struggles for self-acceptance, Cheryl’s issues are unresolved at the end of the film. That, in itself, is a stark reminder of the power of documentary to capture only a brief snapshot of a larger life.

Director Julie Wyman (A Boy Named Sue, Frameline24) and producer Vivian Kleiman (Tongues Untied) ask us to push our boundaries of what we define as “queer film.” In a community where body image and definitions of femininity are so tied up in identity, Cheryl’s experiences challenge the audience to reconcile societal notions of health and beauty with the healthy, beautiful woman on screen.

— KATE CARROLL

AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: D228

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