Making its regional premiere on the festival circuit, director Allie Sultan presents a story of empowerment to challenge conventional notions of value and beauty in her latest documentary short, Lift Like A Girl.
Following the birth of her son, Jenny Lutkins suffered postpartum depression, gaining weight and struggling with her body image and self esteem as middle age settled in. “But she decided to make a change in her life,” says Sultan. First it was just pushing the stroller. Then it was joining a gym and working with a personal trainer, eventually stepping up to CrossFit. Today, Lutkins coaches Olympic Weightlifting. “She coaches 16-year-olds and helps build their confidence,” says Sultan. “It’s really about redefining what you see in yourself as beautiful and claiming your power.”
Longtime friends with Lutkins, the pair attended college together where they both studied audio engineering. It was a male-dominated field, says Sultan, which would come into play when the baby was born. Lutkins’ husband was an audio engineer as well but being paid substantially more, and it was decided he would be the one to keep working. “Economics ended that career,” says Sultan, “and contributed to her depression.”
But it’s a different Lutkins that Sultan captures in the film, shot over the course of three days as part of the Fusion International Documentary Challenge. Onscreen, Lutkins is strong, literally and figuratively, coaching one of her young charges through her first competition. “Women in their 40s have value, which you don’t see very much in the media,” says Sultan. “I wanted to offer another story.”
Preparing for her final screening at the Sarasota Film Festival, “This is an incredible festival,” she says. “I’ve made some incredible friends and seen some of the most beautiful films. These films are going to stay with me for a long time.”
Pictured: Allie Sultan. Photo by Wyatt Kostygan.