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Abled: The Blake Leeper Story

Directed by:

Einar Thorsteinsson

2023

89 minutes

Setting its focus on double-leg blade sprinter Blake Leeper, who aspires to be in the Olympics, this is an inquiry into the deliberate bias against disabled athletes who want to compete against the “able-bodied” and the dubious science used to bar them from their dreams.

SCREENINGS

Friday, October 27, 2023 at 4:15 PM

Sunday, October 29, 2023 at 10:15 AM

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On-Demand (Worldwide). October 30 - November 5

Abled: The Blake Leeper Story Official Trailer

This film is sponsored by:

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ABOUT THE FILM

Meet Blake Leeper, a medal-winning Paralympian sprinter and world record holder in the 400m. Born with both legs missing below the knee, Leeper embraced sports from a young age but did not turn his eye to competitive running till his late teens. He became a major competitor in 100m, 200m, and 400m sprints, earning silver and bronze medals at the 2012 London Paralympics. Leeper intended to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics against "able-bodied" runners. But, despite the one-time precedent set by Oscar Pistorius at the 2012 Olympics, World Athletics, the sport's governing body, claims Leeper's blades give him an advantage over non-disabled runners. Using candid interviews, incisive reporting, and rigorous scientific testing, the film reveals the deliberate biases faced by disabled athletes and the dubious science and deceptive publicity used to bar them from cross competitions. (Dan Doody)

 

Born without legs and a diagnosis of never being able to walk, Blake Leeper is not expected to transcend past his disability, let alone become one of the fastest men in the world. With his family’s support, Blake uses prostheses to defy his odds at an early age by playing different sports, leaving him enticed by how far he can push his abilities. His belief in himself and inspiration from fellow blade runners leads Blake to the track where he finds himself excelling in a world he could have never imagined. 

 

Blake’s driving passion for competing brings him massive success at the 2012 Paralympic Games and a hunger for more. Attempting to change the world of sports, Blake sets out to race against the best non-disabled competitors, paving a new way for blade runners. He does exactly that and sets a new world record at the 2019 able-bodied US Nationals, making him the fastest blade runner to run 400m, making the US Olympic Team, and qualifying him for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

 

His newfound success brings public scrutiny with claims that his running blades offer him an unfair advantage. His dreams are crushed when The Track and Field Association disqualifies Blake’s fastest record times in an attempt to reassess the capabilities of his prosthetic blades. Blake’s next hurdle is a race against time and institutional resistance. He must prove to the world why he should be eligible to compete on his biggest stage.


Abled: The Blake Leeper Story

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ABOUT THE PRODUCER

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Alan Finkel

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A lifelong running fanatic with deep ties to the track and field world, Producer Alan Finkel is a partner at Wheel+Spoke Agency, a full-service advertising and technology agency in Los Angeles.


Alan has served as CTO for Killer Films/Killer Content, producers of the films Kids, Boys Don’t Cry, Still Alice and Carol. In this capacity, Alan lends his expertise to the Abled project. Alan’s track and field relationships extend to Olympians (including many past participants in Blake’s 400m discipline), world record holders, coaches, as well as track and field officials from the USATF.


ABOUT THE DIRECTOR

Hailing from Reykjavik, Iceland, Einar Thorsteinsson is a Partner-Editor at Union Editorial with decades of experience in editing. While he has been a principal editor on dozens of national commercial campaigns and many iconic music videos, his true passions lie with sports and documentary film. Most recently he edited  Breaking Barriers, a documentary on Ronda Rousey’s legacy in the UFC (United Fighting Championship). He is known for his distinctive and highly visual storytelling style and his willingness to break convention if it feels right. 

 

While he has directed short films, Abled: The Blake Leeper Story is his first foray into long-form documentaries. At its debut at Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) in May 2023, the feature was nominated for The Golden Needle Award, Best Documentary. Thorsteinsson was a 1997 nominee at the MTV Video Music Awards, Best Editing in a Video, for The Wallflowers: One Headlight.

 

His additional editorial work for Union Editorial includes projects for Adidas, Cisco, Ford, and Toyota. From dialogue to sheet metal, from the real world to the imagined, Einar’s output is unified by its power. Directors are drawn to collaborate with him again and again, as much for his emotional awareness as for his keen visual storytelling. His collaborations with directors Sean Thonson, Matt Ogens, Warren Kushner, Craig Gillespie, and many, many others have yielded standout and often celebrated campaigns.

CREDITS

Director

Einar Thorsteinsson


Producers

Alan Finkel

Katherine LeBlond

Brian Leong

Johann Stefansson

Einar Thorsteinsson


Executive Producers

Leo David

Jay Friedkin

James Haygood

Michael Raimondi


Composer

Daniel Dombrowsky

Cinematographers

Anton Einarsson

Brian Leong


Editor 

Einar Thorsteinsson

Carolyn Woods, Colorist | On-line Editor


Re-recording Mixer

Milos Zivkovic


Visual Effects Artist

Carolyn Woods


Additional Crew

Cher Culver, Publicist

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