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T-Rex: Her Fight for Gold Premieres on Independent Lens -Tuesday, August 2, 2016 on PBS
Source/Press Release
Photo/Courtesy T-Rex
June 27, 2016

(JUNE 27) Broadcast of Documentary About Claressa Shields and Her Journey to Become the First American Woman to Win Boxing Gold Medal Timed to Coincide with Her Return to the 2016 Summer Olympics

(San Francisco, CA) – T-Rex: Her Fight for Gold is the coming-of-age story of boxing phenom Claressa “T-Rex” Shields from Flint, MI. Sheilds was just 17 years old when she won the gold medal for
women’s boxing in 2012 — the first time women were allowed to box in the Olympic games. Directed by Drea Cooper and Zackary Canepari and produced by Sue Jaye Johnson, the film’s broadcast is
timed to coincide with Claressa’s return to the Olympic boxing ring at the Rio de Janeiro games this summer. The film premieres on Independent Lens Tuesday, August 2, 2016, 10:00-11:30 PM ET
(check local listings) on PBS.

Claressa Shields was 13 years old when it was announced that women would be allowed to box in the 2012 Olympics. Athough she’d only been boxing for two years, her coach, Jason Crutchfield, predicted she would be there — and that she would win gold. It was an audacious dream for Shields, whose prior aspirations included having ten kids by the time she was 26.

Growing up, Claressa’s father was in prison, her mother struggled with addiction and Claressa bounced between homes. To accomplish her dream, she would need a stable life. Coach Jason and his family took her in, housed her, and kept her focused.
Co-directors Drea Cooper and Zackary Canepari and producer Sue Jaye Johnson met Shields and Crutchfield before she qualified for the Olympics and filmed them for the next two years as they navigated
the pressure of Olympic competition, family drama, and Claressa’s attempts to find love and support in the neglected city of Flint.

When Claressa stands on top of the podium in London, clutching her gold medal and laughing uncontrollably, she, like many around her, thought her struggles were behind her. But back home, as Claressa
and Jason watch fellow athletes receive recognition and endorsements, no one comes forward to support her raising questions about race and class and gender bias. Agents suggest she should  soften her image. “She’s not going to do that,” says co-director Zackary Canepari. “She’s raw and honest. And stubborn. She wants to succeed on her own terms.”

The team continued to document Shields and her coach for six months after their return from the Olympics as even their close father-daughter bond strained under the pressure. “It was a huge challenge,” said co-director Drea Cooper. “Even for Claressa, with all her talent and determination, it was a struggle not to give up.”

“Claressa’s story is universal,” says Producer Sue Jaye Johnson, “but there is also this great girl angle. She is pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable for girls everywhere.”

To date, Claressa has lost only once. With a record of 69-1, she is ranked number one in the world heading into her second Olympic competition. 

Visit the T-Rex: Her Fight for Gold page on Independent Lens, which features more information about the film.

About the Team

Zackary Canepari and Drea Cooper (Directors) have been working together since 2009. They’ve produced and directed the award-winning online short documentary series California is a place. With
over ten million views online, the films have screened at film festivals around the world, including Sundance. Their compelling visual style and deeply personal storytelling has earned Cooper and
Canepari award nominations from IDFA DocLab for best digital storytelling and documentary project of the year by POYi (Pictures of the Year International). The directing duo landed on Filmmaker Magazine’s Top 25 New Filmmakers to Watch list. They’re also an accomplished commercial directing team.

Sue Jaye Johnson (Producer) began documenting Shields in 2011 at her first elite boxing tournament. She then spearheaded an unprecedented collaboration between the NYT, NPR and WNYC to
document the first women to box in the Olympics. “Teen Contender”, the feature radio documentary she co-produced with Radio Diaries followed Claressa’s journey to the Olympics and won a Peabody Award.


Directed by Drea Cooper and Zackary Canepari
Produced by Sue Jay Johnson
Additional Producers Bianca Darville
Gary Kout
Zackary Canepari
Drea Cooper
Edited by Jean Kawahara
Drea Cooper
Original Music by Matthew Joynt
Nathan Sandberg
Cinematography by Zackary Canepari
Drea Cooper


Link to tix and info on the Screening is here: 
The NYTimes review is here. 
The film is on Vimeo now so everyone can rent or own it. 
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