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Space, Hope and Charity

Directed by:

Sandy Cummings


The documentary film follows the journey of Charity Woodrum, who overcomes poverty and then tragedy while chasing her dream of becoming an astrophysicist. After losing her husband and young son tragically, Charity gets her life and her dream back on track with help from childhood friends, mentors, and complete strangers. The film is a story of love and loss, and of finding purpose, even joy, again after losing everything.

Woven through the film are themes of women in STEM, barriers to education, the importance of mentorship, and the lifesaving power of human connection.

Director Statement

Goosebumps. That's how I know when I've found a great story that I know will move people deeply. Charity Woodrum is one of them. I've always been struck by stories of ordinary people overcoming extraordinary circumstances, inspiring audiences to strive to be their best selves. When I heard about Charity's remarkable life story and then met her in person, I was determined to share her story with the world. Fortunately, in spite of all she had been through, she decided, in time, to trust me. What resulted is a deeply personal film that explores the very human themes of poverty, family dysfunction, finding purpose after tragedy, and the power of human connection. It also highlights a young woman determined to succeed in a traditionally male-dominated field: astrophysics. It's reminiscent of Tara Westover's "Educated" with tragedy and space exploration woven into the journey.

Charity grew up in poverty in rural Oregon, one of eight children her father had during six marriages. She was the first in her family to graduate from high school. When life was crazy at home, she found peace outside… looking up at the night sky. She excelled in math and one day in junior high, asked a teacher what it would take for her to one day work for NASA. He chuckled. She never forgot.

Fast forward to early 2017. Charity was married and had a 3-year-old son. She had left nursing to pursue her dream of becoming an astrophysicist. She was a junior at the University of Oregon, had completed a NASA internship, and was thriving. Then her world collapsed in a flash. She lost her husband and son tragically as she looked on, helpless to save them. With tremendous support from mentors, old friends, and perfect strangers, she was able to get her life… and her dream… back on track. She’s currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Arizona, working as part of the James Webb Space Telescope team.

I asked Charity once why she decided to share her story with me and the world. Her answer: “My journey into astrophysics all started while I was pregnant with my son. I wanted to be the best version of myself as a mother, and that meant pursuing my biggest dreams, even if they seemed impossible at the time. I needed him to see me at least try. I don’t think you can heal from losing a child. Eventually, the pain just becomes part of you and you carry it with you. What you can do is find reasons to keep going. On my hardest days, what keeps me going is that even if he’s not here to see it, I’m still his mother and I still need to be the best version of myself for him. With this documentary, I hope people can watch and find their own reasons to keep going through their hardest days.”

About the Director

Sandy Cummings, Director/Producer/WriterSandy is an award-winning broadcast journalist (3 national EMMY awards, a Columbia-DuPont Award, an Edward R. Murrow Award, an Overseas Press Club Award, several Gabriel Awards, and numerous nominations) with more than 20 years of experience working for NBC News as a senior producer and a producer, mostly for Dateline NBC. She has covered breaking news, investigative stories, legal stories, entertainment, and medical stories and spent years producing long-form programs for the network. Sandy built a reputation for earning the trust of the people whose stories she tells and taking the storytelling to a deeper level. She recently followed a family with three children who received heart transplants over the six years she followed their story. The program aired as an hour-long special on NBC and as a 2-hour documentary on MSNBC. She also has produced the independent documentary, “Lost and Found,” about an orphanage in Uganda that is funded, in part, by inmate artists in the U.S. It was broadcast on Oregon Public Broadcasting and was shown at Bend Film, Peace on Earth Film Festival and My Hero International Film Festival. It is currently available on Amazon and iTunes as well as in some public libraries.


Sandy Cummings


Sandy Cummings


Sandy Cummings


Tom Tanquary

Director of Photography

Diana Jenkins


Space, Hope and Charity Official Trailer

Space, Hope and Charity

Directed by:

Sandy Cummings


79 minutes

FHFF On-Demand Streaming Partner

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