Yesterday on March 5, Examiner.com was on the scene for a New York special screening of the EPIX original documentary "The Current" part of the ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival and co-hosted by The JCC in Manhattan at the Times Center in New York City.
The film followed seven brave souls as they were tested by the ocean waters of: Bimini (Bahamas), Cozumel (Mexico), and Kauai (Hawaii) where they heroically swam with sharks and dolphins, went scuba diving, and surfed the waves of beautiful Hawaii. While keeping true to their driving principles of looking past their obvious limitations, all of which have made them each heroines in their own right, these great men and women have managed to make the impossible possible contrary to the naysayers. “Soul Surfer” Bethany Hamilton and Paralympic Gold Medalist Mallory Weggemann were in attendance at the screening and participated in a Q&A.
Check our our exclusive interviews below:
As one of the featured athletes in the film, what are some of your hopes for viewers to take away?
You can overcome anything you put your mind to. Having a faith in God was vital for my progression throughout my circumstance. My fear of not getting back into the water was bigger than my fear of coming in contact with another shark. And I try to see the positive out of all things.
As inspirational as your story is, what were some of the strengths you pulled from of your other cast mates?
We (Bethany and husband Adam) were specifically inspired by the love shared between Grant and Shawna, and how they stuck it out together after his accident.
How did you and your husband first meet?
We met through mutual friends and just got to know each other gradually. We didn’t know much of each other prior to meeting. On our first date, we jumped off of a 40 foot cliff.
Can you tell me about your connection to the water, and how the whole idea of “healing waters” relates to you?
When I was paralyzed in Jan. of 2008, two months before my 19th birthday, I thought my days of swimming were over. Being a competitive swimmer since the age of 7, the water was second nature to me, and it has always been my safe haven, but when I was paralyzed I thought it was taken away. But in April of 2008, 4 months later, I realized that it wasn’t, I got back in the pool, and swimming was like having my home back, it taught me so much about life as far as dedication, determination, and about life’s challenges and overcoming them. I’m free, I can do anything and everything that I want. When I’m in a pool, I’m not in a wheelchair. I’m free.
What led you to get back into the water?
Getting back into the water was actually kind of serendipitous. I had just gotten out of the hospital and was at my parents' house. My sister saw a newspaper article for the Paralympic tryouts for the Beijing games being held about 30 minutes away from my house. I never heard of the Paralympics before then and didn’t know what to expect. They wanted to take me to check it out. I really didn’t want to, but my family could be really pushy (in a good-supportive way) so I went, that was on a Saturday. I left the pool, and then on Monday, I got back in the pool for the first time and literally fell in love.
What do you hope people take away from the film?
One of the biggest things that I always talk about is that everybody has a disability. Mine is physical, it could be mental, emotional, financial, spiritual, nonetheless, we all struggle with stuff every single day. And, yes the movie is about showcasing amazing abilities within the disability population, but it's about more than that. It’s just about life, and it’s about all of us realizing that disabilities are universal and we all have it. And if we can all understand, the appreciation, respect, and graciousness we can have towards one another I think it's just astronomical and it forces all of us to look internally and think what’s holding me back in my life, and then addressing that and pushing past it. That’s my biggest hope. It could be the smallest of things, but in your life the biggest of things, and just finding out those things and ways to challenge yourself.
"The Current" premieres on EPIX on Wednesday, March 12 at 8pm ET.
Sade Graham contributed reporting.