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AETN, UALR Public Radio/KUAR FM 89.1 host Community Cinema; free advance screening of 'Strong!'

Film profiles former Olympic weightlifter Cheryl Haworth.

The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) and UALR Public Radio/KUAR FM 89.1 invite the public to a free advance screening of "Strong!" as part of Community Cinema Monday, May 21, at 6 p.m. at Roosevelt Thompson Library in Little Rock.

By 15 she was an American national champion. By 17 she was competing in the Olympics. A formidable figure at five feet, eight inches tall and weighing over 300 pounds, Cheryl Haworth made history in Sydney, Australia, in 2000 when she became the youngest athlete to win an Olympic weightlifting medal. "Strong!," directed by Julie Wyman, follows Haworth as she struggles to defend her champion status even as her career inches toward its inevitable end. From the highs of her spectacular rise to the lows of battling injuries, "Strong!" explores the challenges this unusual elite athlete faces: coming to terms with a body that is celebrated within her sport but shunned by mainstream culture.

In presenting Haworth's story, "Strong!" follows the path of a gender pioneer in an unconventional sport and questions stereotypical notions of health, size and fitness. Even from a young age Haworth was aware of her unique body and relished its strength, and when introduced to weightlifting as a teenager, she excelled.

"It's so rare I think to really find that thing that you're supposed to do," she said. "Weightlifting was that thing that I found."Following her win in Sydney, Haworth's career gathered momentum. But while competing in Mexico and attempting an American record of 286 pounds, she tore two ligaments in her left arm. With an uncertain future in a sport that demands complete confidence, Haworth fought back, eventually breaking both the Pan American and U.S. records when she successfully lifted 354 pounds at the 2005 Pan American Games.

"Strong!" takes viewers inside the rarefied world of elite athletes to follow Haworth through several competitions and eventually on to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. Yet, the toll weightlifting takes on Haworth – both physical and psychological – is enormous. With honesty and candor she reveals her conflicting feelings about the weight she has to lift, the weight her body carries, and what kind of future she will face when she steps off the stage.

The screening will be held at Roosevelt Thompson Library, 38 Rahling Circle, Little Rock. A community discussion will follow the screening. Additional information is available by calling AETN at 800-662-2386.

Community Cinema, a free monthly screening series engaging communities through films produced by the Independent Television Service (ITVS), features monthly screenings followed by panel discussions with leading organizations, local communities and special guest speakers. The program is designed to help people learn about and get involved in the social issues raised in the documentaries.

The mission of UALR Public Radio is to deepen insight into the human experience, empower decision-making and enrich the lives of those we serve through quality news and cultural programs. UALR Public Radio operates two radio stations in Little Rock – KUAR FM 89.1, which broadcasts news, jazz and cultural programs including national programming from NPR, and KLRE 90.5, which broadcasts classical music.

The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) is Arkansas’s statewide public television network that enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. For more information, visit www.aetn.org, or follow the AETN blog at www.aetn.org/engage. AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), and KETZ (El Dorado).

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