Over a decade in the making, this inspiring and unforgettable documentary follows children impacted by homelessness as they discover the magic of self-expression through dance. Guided by mentor Steven, whose journey leads back to his childhood shelter, their path within a remarkable ballet program becomes a celebration of joy and triumph in the face of adversity.
Director David Petersen takes audiences on a journey that spans ten years. In his documentary LIFT, he tells the world about the brilliant and titular program in New York City that revolves around the art of dance. “New York Theatre Ballet’s LIFT Community Service Program provides scholarships for talented at-risk and underserved children at the School of NYTB, as well as programs that champion dance for the greater good.” Housing-insecure youth have the opportunity to break free from the circumstances they cannot control. Steven Melendez once lived in a shelter. As a professional dancer and former student of the program, he returns to introduce ballet to other housing-insecure children. The discipline and structure that comes along with ballet transcend the stage. It is vital for kids in school or home environments that would otherwise make them victims of socioeconomic circumstances. The purpose of LIFT is to provide a safe place for them to learn and grow. It is a beautiful safety net, but they have to be willing to commit. These kids have so many obstacles in their paths, and Steven does everything he can to push past his own trauma to better the lives of kids just like him.The documentary follows a small group of kids that Steven nurtured over ten years of ballet. Tough love is necessary as these kids get into trouble. Steven does not have time to mince words. It is the honesty they need to survive and a place to put all their unbridled emotions. The culmination of the film arrives with one special performance. Steven creates a new piece of choreography based on his experiences and those of his handpicked students, and my god, it is a revelatory dance. This choreography is therapy. This choreography is healing. This choreography is lifesaving. Steven knows it, and as the credits roll on LIFT, audiences will know it, too.
In Select Theatres on September 15, 2023
And Available to Buy or Rent on Digital September 22nd
*Best Documentary Audience Award 2nd Place – 2022 Tribeca Festival*
* Best Documentary Winner – 2022 San Francisco Dance Film Festival*
*Top Prize Children’s Resilience in Film Award – Shine Global Awards*
*Best Documentary Audience Award 2nd Place – 2023 Seattle International Film Festival*
*Best of Fest Winner – 2023 Palm Springs International Film Festival*
*2022 Hamptons International Film Festival*
Release Date: In Select Theatres on September 15, 2023, and On Digital & On Demand on September 22, 2023
Directed By: David Petersen
Featuring: Steven Melendez (Principal Artist and Artistic Director of NYTB), Diana Byer (Founder and former Artistic Director of NYTB), Victor Abreu (LIFT Dance Student, Member of New York City Ballet’s corps de ballet), Yolannsie Cardona (LIFT Dance Student), Sharia Blockwood (LIFT Dance Student)Produced By: Mary Recine, David Petersen
Executive Produced By: Jody Allen, Ruth Johnston, Rocky Collins, Jannat Gargi, Sam Pollard, Alex Kurtzman, Jenny Lumet, Bruce Evans, Lisa Kleiner-Chanoff, Bonni Cohen, Megan Gelstein
Executive Produced By and Principal Advisor: Misty Copeland
Distributed By: Paramount Global Content Distribution
Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language
Social Media: @ParamountMovies #LIFTDoc
LIFT Community Service Program provides scholarships for talented at-risk and underserved children at the School of NYTB, as well as programs that champion dance for the greater good. LIFT includes a year-round Study Program for children at risk and homeless.