This short documentary shares trans athlete Izzy Sederbaum’s experience of recovering after a rare cougar attack, and reclaiming joy and healing through cycling
SEATTLE, June 22, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — REI Co-op Studios, in partnership with Wondercamp, announces the release of its newest short documentary: “The Right to Joy.” The film shares the story of Izzy Sederbaum, a trans-masculine cyclist and policy scholar who survived a rare cougar attack on a bicycle ride just outside Seattle in early 2018.
The Right to Joy follows Sederbaum’s journey as he navigates the aftermath of the attack, overcomes his fears, and becomes a vocal advocate for diversity and trans inclusion within cycling communities across the country. The film, which premiered at 5Point Film Festival and was recently screened at Tribeca Film Festival, is now available for REI members and the greater co-op community to watch on REI’s YouTube channel.
While the incident was broadly covered, news stories focused on the cougar attack, not the victims, and Sederbaum was never interviewed by a single outlet. “The Right to Joy” is a reclamation of his story, while amplifying the voices of a group historically underrepresented in outdoor sports.
“The attack has spurred countless bouts of mental and physical pain no one could anticipate or begin to imagine. I had a choice to either wallow in this tragedy and loss or help inspire others get back on the bicycle saddle,” said Sederbaum. “I chose the latter, and by helping others, I also began to heal. I’m lucky to be alive, and it means so much to finally be able to tell my story in my own words and from a place of joy and healing.”
Discussions for “The Right to Joy” first began in 2021, when Sederbaum connected with friend and filmmaker/director Jay Melena during a bicycle ride. Melena, who is also trans, was immediately drawn to Sederbaum’s story and his search for community and acceptance through cycling. They then connected with co-director Tim Kressin of Wondercamp and REI Co-op Studios to create the 20-minute short film.
“It was important to me from the start that we build positive representations of trans people in the film via the behind-the-lens work,” said Melena. “Izzy was deeply involved in crafting the message of the film, while our shared experiences as trans people created a sense of ownership and belonging. Tim’s directorial expertise elevated the result to a cinematic experience we hope will connect viewers with the universal aspects of grief, anxiety and joy, while also uplifting trans filmmakers.”
Kressin is a co-founder of Wondercamp, and as a director focuses on building empathy by highlighting often under-told or under-seen stories. Based in Seattle, Kressin believes in staying curious, listening well, and connecting each story to the universally human emotions in all of us. Melena is a Santa Cruz-based director and photographer who specializes in all things outdoor and narrative-driven stories. As a trans filmmaker, he has a passion for centering stories of those less often seen in the spotlight.
This story embodies REI Co-op Studios’ efforts to explore the power of time spent outside through the voices of historically underrepresented groups. This is REI Co-op Studio’s second film to screen at Tribeca Film Festival. This year’s festival premiered more than 250 films over the course of 12 days, with a slate of features and short films highlighting politically, culturally, and socially relevant films from diverse storytellers. “The Right to Joy” screened in the shorts category.
“This is a story about perseverance and the importance of community and acceptance in the outdoors,” said Paolo Mottola, REI Co-op’s director of brand and content marketing. “We are grateful to Izzy for his bravery in sharing his story, for directors Tim and Jay for their care of such a personal narrative, and for the continued advocacy of dedicated activists like Izzy who work tirelessly toward a more inclusive and safe outdoors. We are proud to make this film for our members and the broader co-op community.”
Other production crew members included Producer: Davis Goslin, Assistant Producer: Abdul Kassamali, Cinematographer: Greg Balkin, Location Sound: Megan Martinez Goltz, Assistant Editor: Makenna Wall, and Executive Producers: Paolo Mottola, Joe Crosby and Hanna Boyd.
About REI Co-op Studios
REI Co-op Studios is the retailer’s in-house content arm. Across films, podcasts and editorial programs, the studio develops and produces stories that entertain, enrich, and explore the power of time spent outside, while complementing the co-op’s broader climate and racial equity, diversity, and inclusion commitment. The studio’s slate includes feature films Full Circle, Space Oddity and Frybread Face and Me.
Wondercamp is an award-winning, full-service production company based in Seattle. With a strong presence in the documentary space for nearly a decade, they have created a reputation for thoughtful and value-driven storytelling that empowers voices of people who need to be heard. Through every step of production, their mission is to challenge viewers to be more compassionate, more humble, and more curious.
About the REI Co-op
REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of 23 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 181 locations in 42 states and the District of Columbia. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.com, REI Outlet or the REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. Adventurers can take the trip of a lifetime with REI’s active adventure travel company that runs more than 100 itineraries across the country. In many communities where REI has a presence, professionally trained instructors share their expertise by hosting beginner-to advanced-level classes and workshops about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.
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SOURCE REI Co-op