30 for 30 Shorts: “Locked In” Documentary on Victoria Arlen to Premiere August 3 on ESPN

ESPN Films

30 for 30 Shorts: “Locked In” Documentary on Victoria Arlen to Premiere August 3 on ESPN

ESPN Films will premiere a new 30 for 30 Shorts documentary, “Locked In,” on Friday, August 3, at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. The short film, directed by Alison Ellwood (“American Jihad” and “History of the Eagles”), chronicles former Paralympian swimmer Victoria Arlen’s journey through a rare medical diagnosis that left her in a vegetative state and her incredible recovery that followed. Trailer: https://es.pn/2LB7jin

The family photos and home movies show a precocious, athletic little girl, a triplet with two brothers who lovingly teased her as they grew up in New Hampshire. Victoria Arlen truly had the world ahead of her. But at the age of 11, she began to suffer from an illness that baffled her doctors and tore up her family. She fell into a vegetative state, unable to communicate to her loved ones that she was still there. As she says in this inspiring and moving 30 for 30 Short, “I was locked in my own body.”

It wasn’t until three years later that Arlen began to regain movement. As it turned out, two different and rare neurological diseases had robbed Victoria not only of precious years, but also her physical capabilities. But they hadn’t taken her spirit. Slowly but surely, with the help of loved ones and proper treatment, she began to recover her true self. She couldn’t walk, but her brothers showed her she could still swim – all the way to London for the 2012 Summer Paralympics, where she won a gold and three silver medals. Determined to recover the use of her legs, she enrolled in a program called Project Walk and eventually competed on Dancing With The Stars on ABC.

“Locked In” features moving testimony from Arlen’s mother, father, brothers, and coach, but ultimately, the words that sum up her remarkable story belong to Arlen herself, who now works for ESPN: “I wanted to switch the word ‘impossible’ to ‘I’m possible.’”

“As a person, I was drawn to Victoria Arlen’s story as it represented the power of love in a family determined to never give up, despite the odds,” said director Alison Ellwood. “As a director, her story presented exciting visual challenges that allowed me to experiment with metaphor. Given that Victoria was a swimmer, the water was a natural place for her “Locked In” mind to exist, simultaneously at peace and in angst.”

The short film will be available for streaming Friday, August 24, on ESPN+, the first-ever multi-sport, direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer and International group and ESPN.

About ESPN Films

ESPN Films has been an industry leader in documentary filmmaking since its inception in March 2008, producing more than 100 documentaries that have showcased some of the most compelling stories in sports. The high quality of storytelling, highlighted by the Peabody and Emmy Award-winning 30 for 30 series and the Academy-Award winning documentary “O.J.: Made in America,” has led to record viewership as well as multiple honors and critical acclaim. Additional projects from ESPN Films over the years have included 30 for 30 ShortsNine for IX and the SEC Storied series.


 Media Contacts:

Jennifer Cingari Christie: 646-547-5840, [email protected]

Jay Jay Nesheim: 646-547-5839, [email protected]



Jennifer Cingari Christie

Based in New York City, Jennifer Cingari Christie is a Communications Manager for ESPN Films and Original Content. Her projects include the critically-acclaimed 30 for 30 documentary series, ESPN The Magazine and The ESPYS, among others.
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