View the Italian subtitled trailer, Mia Sorella, Hali.
My Sister Hali, is a collective testimony of endurance and survival. It is a story of reevaluating what was and is. It is a story of one man pulling down barriers and finding the strength to embrace his painful, but unmistakably beautiful past.
Paul Sheriff, a professor of Graphic Design at Temple University in Philadelphia, turns filmmaker as he reflects on his childhood in the heartland of America in the 1960's. Using a family scrap book, meticulously put together by his mother and coach, the film utilizes the nostalgic array of photographs and newspaper articles to introduce the viewer to Sheriff's early years. As he grapples with his dilemma to tell the world about his unique story confounded by his painful denial of the events of his childhood, he poetically, creates the documentary, My Sister Hali.
After being separated from each gymnastic team mate for 46 years, the filmmaker organizes a reunion for the Blue Mound Gymnastics team. Through spontaneous interviews, the film brings together the collective memories of his team mates, addressing individual thoughts about arduous training, sacrifice, success, self esteem and the societal perception of women in competitive sports in America in the 1960's. Through the twists and turns of the interviews, we learn about the phenomenal athletic genius of Sheriff's older sister, Hali, whose breathtaking routines always stopped the meets, leaving all judges and spectators in total awe. Accompanied by archival video, we are introduced to an unknown world class athlete whose artistic performances were far beyond the Olympic standard of the day.
Weaving 8 remarkable stories together, the film relives the all consuming rigor of achieving excellence in the sport of gymnastics and the subsequent life lessons imprinted on each individual at a very young age. It speaks of the exhilarating joy of competition and the insurmountable heart felt pain of living through a devastating loss.
Acclaimed Graphic Designer and educator, Paul Sheriff, turns filmmaker as he pieces together his extraordinary past which is the documentary, My Sister Hali.
Sheriff returns to his childhood hometown of Blue Mound, Illinois in the heartland of America. While reuniting with fellow gymnastic team members, who he has not been in contact with for 46 years, he meticulously reconstructs his past. A complicated past which he has denied his entire adult life.
Sheriff states: "I have always wanted to tell this story, but literally could not address the multiple issues which were critical in creating the documentary. Addressing these obstacles, while confronting the past, gave me an unexpected structure to a story which needed to be told."
Through the use of archival images, film and newspaper articles the first time filmmaker brings to life, not only his story, but the collective story of the Blue Mound Gym Club. It is an amazing testimony to the ambition of his mother and coach, "Ginny" Sheriff, and the unparalleled talent of his sister, the young gymnastic prodigy, Hali Sheriff.
When asked what was the resolve of this seven year process, Sheriff adamantly responded:
"Knowing what I felt my entire life about this story and knowing that it was totally my responsibility to get it out there, was herculean. I knew that only I could bring this incredible story to life, there was no one else. What I did not know was how beneficial my childhood team mates could be in assisting me on this journey. I also could not have comprehended how the rigor of reconstructing the past could, in fact, be so liberating."
He paused, and while taking a deep breath, rolled his eyes back and looked at the ceiling for a few seconds. I could see there was more he wanted to say, but just needed time to ponder. And then, with absolute resolve, he looked directly at me and stated the following:
"I would be absolutely lying to everyone who sees this documentary if I did not admit that facing off with the past, has reacquainted me with an unbelievabe amount of sorrow. I mean at times, real heart felt pain. But, on the other hand, the process has brought me unexpected joy. Even, when I think about it, it has brought me a different perspective about love. Love of life, love of family, just a lot of love. Man, I am so glad I did this! I mean, I really did it.
Mickey Newman has been a filmmaker, editor and videographer for over 10 years. He received his MFA in Film and Media Arts from Temple University in 2015 and a BA in Film Studies from the University of Pittsburgh in 2009. His most recent narrative film, "The Thrill of Being Followed," was accepted in eight film festivals with one win and two nominations.
Well-versed in Avid, Final Cut, Adobe Premier Pro and Da Vinci Resolve, Mickey has been teaching courses in film, video, editing and media arts at Temple University and Pittsburgh Filmmakers since 2008. In addition to filmmaking, Mickey also spent several years sailing the world as a drummer in various show bands and jazz trios on cruise ships and riverboats.
Currently, he is the lead editor on the feature length documentary "My Sister Hali," as well a freelance videographer and instructor at Temple University. His work can be seen on his website - mickeynewmanfilms.com
Charles Abramovic has won critical acclaim for his international performances as a soloist, chamber musician, and collaborator with leading instrumentalists and singers. He has performed a vast repertoire not only on the piano, but also the harpsichord and fortepiano. Mr. Abramovic made his solo orchestral debut at the age of fourteen with the Pittsburgh Symphony. Since then he has appeared as soloist with numerous orchestras, including the Baltimore Symphony, the Colorado Philharmonic, the Florida Philharmonic, and the Nebraska Chamber Orchestra. He has given solo recitals throughout the United States, France and Yugoslavia. He has also appeared at major international festivals in Berlin, Salzburg, Bermuda, Dubrovnik, Aspen and Vancouver.
Mr. Abramovic has performed often with such stellar artists as Midori, Sarah Chang, Robert McDuffie, Viktoria Mullova, Kim Kashkashian, Mimi Stillman and Jeffrey Khaner. His recording of the solo piano works of Delius for DTR recordings has been widely praised. He has recorded for EMI Classics with violinist Sarah Chang, and Avie Recordings with Philadelphia Orchestra principal flutist Jeffrey Khaner. Actively involved with contemporary music, he has also recorded works of Milton Babbitt, Joseph Schwantner, Gunther Schuller and others for Albany Records, CRI, Bridge, and Naxos.
Mr. Abramovic is a Professor of Keyboard Studies at Temple University's Boyer College of Music in Philadelphia where he has taught since 1988. He is an active part of the musical life of Philadelphia, performing with numerous organizations in the city. He is a core member of the Dolce Suono Ensemble, and performs often with Network for New Music and Orchestra 2001. In 1997 he received the Career Development Grant from the Philadelphia Musical Fund Society, and in 2003 received the Creative Achievement Award from Temple University. He is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, the Peabody Conservatory, and received his doctorate from Temple University. His teachers have included Natalie Phillips, Eleanor Sokoloff, Leon Fleisher, and Harvey Wedeen.
Heidi Jacob's music has been described by BBC Magazine as "compositions ...of complex mesmerizing beauty," by David Patrick Stearns of the Philadelphia Inquirer as "a musical adventurer," and by Gramophone Magazine as music with "...forthright expressiveness [that]exposes a multitude of stylistic associations." Composer, cellist, and conductor, she is a Professor of Music at Haverford College and a graduate of both the Curtis Institute of Music and The Juilliard School, with a D.M.A. in composition from Temple University where she was a student of Matthew Greenbaum, Richard Brodhead and Maurice Wright. She has performed as a cellist throughout the United States and Europe, has recorded for as a cellist and conductor for Capstone Records, Albany Records and Navona records. The CD of her compositions, "Beneath Winter Light," produced by Parma Records, was released in January 2015.
Ms. Jacob's solo and chamber music works have been performed at Tania León's 2014 Composers Now Festival, the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Rutgers University's Complex Weave: Women and Identity in Contemporary Art installation, Amphibian; New Music and Video HI Art Gallery, and The Stone in New York City and by The Argento Ensemble, the Opus One: Berks Chamber Choir, Temple University's Contemporary Music Ensemble, the Momenta String Quartet, the Hildegard Chamber Players, violinists Miranda Cuckson and Barbara Govatos, cellists Jeffrey Solow, Michal Schmidt and cellist Thalia Moore of Earplay, flutists Mimi Stillman, Adeline Tomasone, Jeffrey Khaner and pianist Charles Abramovic. Her work for piano; Regard a Schubert: a Fantasy Impromptu was a prizewinner in the International Alliance for Women in Music Competition. Her cycle of songs Beginning Again, can be heard on L'Ensemble's CD "Poetry into Song".
Ms. Jacob's Winter Light for violin and string orchestra, selected in a call for scores by the Fondazione Adkins Chiti: Donne in Musica was recently performed by I Solisti Veneti, conducted by Claudio Scimone, in Padova, Italy. Her string orchestra piece, Many in One was commissioned by First Editions Chamber Orchestra and was premiered in spring of 2016.
"His intonation is irreproachable, his tone uncommonly pure, and he communicates with a musical sensitivity that demands and holds the attention," said the Los Angeles Times about Jeffrey Solow whose impassioned and compelling cello playing has enthralled audiences throughout the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Asia. His multi-faceted career embraces performances as recitalist, soloist with orchestra and chamber musician, as well as teaching, writing and lecturing on a variety of cellistic topics and arranging and editing music for the cello; two of his many recordings were nominated for Grammy Awards.
Solow's concerto appearances include performances of more than forty different works with orchestras including the Los Angeles Philharmonic (also at the Hollywood Bowl), Japan Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the American Symphony (with whom he also recorded). He has presented recitals throughout the US and in Europe, Japan, Korea, China, Mexico and Central and South America. For ten years he was a member of The Amadeus Trio and he has been guest artist at many national and international chamber music festivals.
Following private cello studies with Gabor Rejto in his native Los Angeles, Solow studied with and assisted the legendary Gregor Piatigorsky at USC. He went on to win the Young Musicians Foundation's first Gregor Piatigorsky Award and the Young Concert Artists Award and made his New York debut on the YCA series.
Recognized worldwide as an outstanding teacher, Solow has presented master classes throughout the United States as well as in Switzerland, Austria, Korea, Guatemala, Norway, France, Argentina, Canada, and at the conservatories in Beijing, Shanghai, Nanning, Sichuan, and WuHan in China and at the Chiang Kai-Shek National Library in Taiwan. A former faculty member of UCLA, California State University at Northridge, the University of Michigan and the Peabody Conservatory, for eight summers he taught cello and chamber music at the renowned Chautauqua Institution in New York State and was twice artist/teacher at the Gregor Piatigorsky Memorial Seminar for Cellists at USC. Solow is a past president of the American String Teachers and is president of the Violoncello Society, Inc. of New York, the nation’s second oldest cello society.