In life, it's human to fall down; the magic happens when you get back up. - Grant Korgan
On March 5, 2010, established world class adventurer, nano-mechanics professional, and husband Grant Korgan was filming a snowmobiling segment in the Sierra Nevada back country when he burst-fractured his L1 vertebrae. The incident added the adventure of spinal cord injury recovery to his long list of pursuits.
Less than two years later on January 17, 2012, Korgan joined two seasoned explorers in attempting the seemingly insurmountable, and became the first spinal cord injured athlete to literally push himself nearly 100 miles (the final degree of latitude) to the most inhospitable place on the planet – the bottom of the globe, the geographic South Pole.
The Push beautifully brings to life the adventure that was accomplished on the 100th anniversary of the first explorers to travel to the South Pole, though it's also a film that weaves into its fabric Korgan's own personal adventure in becoming one of the new faces in spinal cord injury recovery as he acknowledges the impact of spinal cord injury on his life yet resolutely refuses to be defined by it.
Korgan defines his own life. End of discussion.
In the early moments of The Push, I must confess that I found myself rolling my eyes a bit as the film danced ever so closely toward that godawful inspiration porn line that the late great disability rights activist Stella Young spoke of so beautifully. Korgan himself has a bit of a whimsical, slightly melodramatic way of speaking and the film's early moments wax a bit too philosphical before you've gotten to really know and begin to understand Korgan and the team behind him.
Then, everything begins to click.
With The Push, The Push team both celebrates Korgan's achievements and hopes to inspire people in all walks of life to achieve the seemingly insurmountable in their life, to push their own everyday limits, and to live their ultimate potential.
As a paraplegic/double amputee myself, and one whose embarked on my own wide array of adventures, by the end of The Push I felt like I'd stumbled across a younger kindred spirit, a more adventurous adventurer whose exploits are even more extreme and fueled by an extraordinary team of fellow adventurers including wife Shawna Korgan and Tal Fletcher, both of whom are featured vividly in The Push.
The Push picked up multiple awards along its festival journey including wins at Santa Barbara International Film Festival (Jury Winner), Sonoma International Film Festival (Audience Award Winner, Honorable Mention - Jury), AmDocs Palm Springs (Audience Award Winner) and others. The film is beautifully photographed, perhaps deferring a bit too much to the halo effect yet rather magnificently capturing the painstaking and detailed prep that has gone into Korgan's life, both personally and professionally. The scenes shot actually during Korgan's push toward the South Pole are riveting even if we do know going into it all that Korgan was successful in his efforts.
The Push also nicely captures those beside Korgan, whose relentless positivity seems to be irrevocably intertwined with Korgan's own indomitable spirit and fierce determination to discover and celebrate the best in the human spirit. He believes in it, of that there's no doubt, yet where The Push soars is in capturing just how much he believes this same spirit and determination and ability exists in each one of us no matter what we've survived.
And we've all survived something.
After a successful festival run, The Push has been picked up by indie distributor Gravitas Ventures and is currently available via your usual digital and VOD channels. For those who appreciate inspirational filmmaking, The Push is definitely a film you'll want to check out.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic