BROKEN UNBROKEN follows the path of Nick Riemer and his transformation after breaking his back while training for the Junior National Freestyle Ski Team. Devastated, Nick works through the idea that he may never ski again. Through the process, he finds a new outlet: YouTube.
Part of this film explores the difficulties and positives of growing up in a Christian context while also dealing with an injury. From the start, viewers are prompted to ask, “for whom does the bell toll,” an expression first phrased in a sermon by John Donne. Donne believed that one man’s tragedy is our own. That is, as humans, we cannot escape the reality that tragedy will at some point fall upon us; the bell tolls "for thee.”
While Nick Riemer does not experience anything near death itself, he does work through death of a different kind. It is, I think, imaginable to us all, the difficulties of losing that which we are most passionate about. Nick lost not only that but years of hard work and training.
Building an online community on YouTube brought purpose back to Nick’s life. After straying from God, we see Nick return to find comfort. Footage at Vancouver’s downtown skatepark and on Cypress Mountain illustrate a loss of sport, while interview footage at Oakridge Adventist Church signals renewed spirituality.
One of the major difficulties in making this piece was addressing a question of credibility. Nick’s injury is invisible; and therefore, difficult to display. If you passed him on the street, you would not consider him disabled in any shape or form. So too, his spiritual account is difficult to verify. Managing these two central components posed challenges I did not consider until editing the film. By focusing on a loss of sport, I hope I have conveyed a deeper pain at the core of Nick’s story.
Broken UnBroken recently finished as a finalist for best short in the 4S - Skate Surf Ski Snowboard film festival in Venice, Italy.