Jake, a young man with autism, has become a champion in therapeutic horseback riding. Jake’s mother Joanne has been by his side throughout his riding career, helping him stay calm on his horse. Now, Jake is put to the test as he enters his first non-therapeutic riding competition, where the circumstances are outside Jake and Joanne’s control.
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In a dimly lit classroom, a small group of African-American girls train to compete in a mental sport dominated by white men — chess. Grandmaster Bobby Fischer once said of women, “They’re all weak, all women. They’re stupid compared to men. They shouldn’t play chess.” Chess is still very much a white man’s game, but these girls are trying to change that.
Queens in Training profiles 7-year-old Sienna and 11-year-old Bendu as they prepare to compete in a city-wide tournament in Washington D.C. They are members of an organization called Chess Girls D.C., which teaches girls to compete in the high pressure environment of tournament play. As they receive coaching from some of D.C.’s master chess players, Sienna and Bendu do the work to master the game, compete against boys, and learn life skills.
This short documentary demonstrates the lessons and experiences we learn growing up: winning, losing, striving toward a goal and overcoming the pressures and obstacles of society. It provides a thrilling insight into facing a challenge head-on through the eyes of a child.
Queens in Training was an official selection of nine film festivals: Austin Under the Stars, Alexandria Film Festival, Docs in Progress Community Stories, WAMMFest, The Women’s Film Festival, Soul 4 Reel Film Festival, FilmFest DC, DC Black Film Festival, and DC Shorts Film Festival. It won the Best Ensemble Cast award (unheard of for a documentary) at Austin Under the Stars, and was nominated for the Best Short and Wonder Woman awards at the festival.