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Password: Leah

Untold

When she was fifteen, my daughter Leah fell in love. What began as a sweet teenage dream quickly spiraled into an endless nightmare of abuse and terror for her and our entire family. In the midst of a deep depression, Leah created a dance that beautifully depicted her harrowing story. Three years later, she and I sat down to tell each other the tale of our shared nightmare. Laying bare deeply personal hidden truths, this film reveals an epidemic that lies hidden in the shadows of teenage life in America.

  • David Zeiger
    Director
    Sweet Old World, Sir! No Sir!, Senior Year, The Band
  • David Zeiger
    Writer
    Sweet Old World, Sir! No Sir!, Senior Year, The Band
  • Leah Zeiger
    Writer
  • David Zeiger
    Producer
    Sweet Old World, Sir! No Sir!, Senior Year, The Band
  • Leah Zeiger
    Key Cast
  • David Zeiger
    Key Cast
    Sweet Old World, Sir! No Sir!, Senior Year, The Band
  • Film Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Genres:
    Documentary, Youth
  • Runtime:
    28 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    December 1, 2015
  • Production Budget:
    8,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Film Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    HDV
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Feminist Film Festival
    Chicago
    United States
    World premiere
    Audience Award Best Documentary
Director Biography - David Zeiger

David Zeiger has been making documentary films and series for 20 years, starting with The Band, a film about his son’s junior year in high school, broadcast on the PBS series P.O.V. in 1997. That was followed by the landmark thirteen-part PBS (U.S.) and Planete Cable (International) series Senior Year in 2002. Senior Year was funded by CPB, PBS, NAATA, LPB, and the MacArthur and Kellogg foundations, and was a national presentation by PBS. His short documentary, Funny Old Guys, was broadcast in 2002 by HBO. His 2006 film, Sir! No Sir!, ran theatrically in 65 cities throughout the U.S. and Canada and was broadcast in 200 countries worldwide, including on BBC Storyville, ARTE France, ABC Australia, and the Sundance Channel in the U.S. It won Best Documentary at the Los Angeles Film Festival (Audience Award) and Hamptons Film Festival, and Seeds of War Award at the Full Frame Documentary Festival, along with nominations for an International Documentary, Independent Spirit, and Gotham award. In 2010 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and recently completed his first narrative feature, Sweet Old World.

Add Director’s Biography
Director Statement

This is a film I wish I had not been able to make. I would give anything for our daughter Leah to never have met that boy, for her to have had the idyllic teenage experience that dreams and myths tell us is out there. It isn’t.

What Leah went through, from start to finish, was a textbook case of abuse. Only problem is she never read the textbook. It’s not in the curriculum for fifteen-year-old girls in this country. Or boys for that matter. Doesn’t count on test scores. As young girls and boys grapple their way into the world of sex and relationships, who is showing them the roadmaps? There is no sex education in schools, let alone relationship education. The puritans, fanatics and “reformers” have seen to that. But there are plenty of sadistic pornographers on the internet who are more than willing to tell boys what to do to girls. Healthy sex? Healthy relationships? You’re on your own, kid. Good luck. And by the way, if it goes bad–like, really bad–keep it to yourself. We don’t want to hear it.

But Leah did an amazing thing. Isolated, shunned by friends, she took her searing pain and turned it into a dance. “I have to make something beautiful out of this” was her mantra. And three years later she and I sat down in front of cameras to tell her story. Out of that came this film. Nothing fancy. No tricks. Just the story. A story that has been repeated far too many times and for far too long, yet remains untold.

This is a film I wish I had not been able to make. But I couldn’t be more glad that I did. It’s a story that demands to be told and told over and over again. It’s a story that needs to be dragged out of the shadows kicking and screaming. Leah, a dancer and choreographer, is dedicating her life to using her art to support, strengthen and heal teenage girls facing the same nightmare she went through, and to prevent that nightmare from starting. Nothing could be more beautiful.