Private Project


A snowboard accident leaves Forrest Allen, age 18, trapped inside himself, unable to speak or walk for almost two years. Tom Sweitzer, a music therapist with a troubled childhood, credits music with saving his life. Now, he's determined to help Forrest regain his voice. This is a story of the power of music to heal and transform lives, often in miraculous ways.

  • Susan Koch
    Kicking It, Mario's Story, The Other City, City at Peace
  • Susan Koch
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 29 minutes 18 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 1, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    475,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Distribution Information
  • Zak Kilberg
    Sales Agent
    Country: United States
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Susan Koch

EMMY and Peabody award-winning filmmaker Susan Koch directs, produces, and write documentaries and non-fiction programming for worldwide distribution. Koch's films and videos have been featured at film festivals around the world and screened on ABC, NBC, PBS, HBO, Showtime, MTV, ESPN, The Discovery Channel, National Geographic, CNN, TBS, American Movie Classics, The Learning Channel, and the Travel Channel.  Koch’s feature documentary, KICKING IT, about homeless soccer players who compete in an international tournament, premiered at the Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals, was released theatrically and on DVD, and broadcast on ESPN.  Koch co-directed and produced MARIO'S STORY about a young Latino, Mario Rocha, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison on the basis of one eyewitness. MARIO'S STORY received the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Los Angeles Film Festival and was broadcast on Showtime.  Rocha’s sentence was later vacated. Koch received a Soros Justice Media Fellowship for her work in connection with this film. Koch’s film, THE OTHER CITY, about the HIV/AID epidemic in our nation’s capital, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was broadcast on Showtime.  Koch directed the award-winning documentary, CITY AT PEACE featured at film festivals throughout the world and broadcast on HBO. Koch also directed and wrote the EMMY award-winning documentary REEL MODEL: THE FIRST WOMEN OF FILM, which marked her second collaboration with Barbra Streisand as Executive Producer.
Susan Koch is the founding Executive Director of the Middleburg Film Festival ( located outside of Washington, D.C. The annual festival takes place in October and features the “best of independent film” from around the world.

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Director Statement

I grew up in a family of musicians. My mother was a music teacher. Yet, I’d never heard of music therapy. As a longtime documentary filmmaker, I’m also always on the lookout for new and unusual stories – especially ones that I believe can make a difference. So, when I first met Tom Sweitzer, a music therapist, I was intrigued. He introduced me to some of his students: Amy, a young woman with cerebral palsy who spent 8 months training her finger to play “Happy Birthday” on the piano. I met Brendan and Cameron, two young brothers, both born blind, who used music to describe their world. And Jack, who had difficulty communicating, but could write and perform a song about his autism. And then I met Forrest, who at age 18, had suffered a devastating traumatic brain injury after a freak snowboard accident in which he wasn’t wearing his helmet. By all accounts, Forrest had been a superstar -- charming, handsome, athletic, with a fantastic sense of humor. Everyone loved Forrest. The accident happened in December of his senior year. While his friends were busy filling out college applications, he was tenuously clinging to life, unable to speak or move. After many months of music therapy, Forrest finally said, or rather sang, his first two words in nearly two years. He still had a very long way to go to regain his ability to communicate. I thought if music can really help Forrest get his voice and life back, then this is something quite extraordinary and needs to be documented. For the next five years, my cameraman, Neil Barrett, and I became “flies on the wall”, capturing moments large and small, the triumphs and setbacks, the darkness and despair, the slightest glimmers of hope, and the joy and gratitude that came with every step forward. To see Forrest today is really quite miraculous. Forrest’s journey is about music and healing, but it’s also about faith and family, resilience, and overcoming life’s greatest challenges.