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Story Publication logo May 19, 2020

A Trailer for 'Victoria's Foil'

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Behind the scenes while filming "Victoria's Foil." Image courtesy of Brett Forrest and Brian Ryu. United States, 2020.
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Victoria Isaacson, a 22-year-old wheelchair fencer, is trying to qualify for the Paralympics while...

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When 22-year old Victoria Isaacson discovered she had a degenerative disease, she turned her love of fencing into an all-out effort to become a Paralympic athlete, competing in a wheelchair. Now that a worldwide pandemic threatens her dream of making Team USA, Isaacson is once again coming up with a new plan to shape a future much different from the one she planned. Image courtesy of Brett Forrest and Brian Ryu. United States, 2020.
When 22-year old Victoria Isaacson discovered she had a degenerative disease, she turned her love of fencing into an all-out effort to become a Paralympic athlete, competing in a wheelchair. Now that a worldwide pandemic threatens her dream of making Team USA, Isaacson is once again coming up with a new plan to shape a future much different from the one she planned. Image courtesy of Brett Forrest and Brian Ryu. United States, 2020.

The short documentary, Victoria's Foil, tells the story of 22-year-old wheelchair fencer—Victoria Isaacson—on a multi-year journey to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. She competes not only against her opponents, but a life-altering disease, mounting debt, and eventually, the coronavirus pandemic. The documentary touches upon her self-doubt, concerns, and hopes and dreams of leaving a mark in the athletic world when she thought that she would no longer be able to live a normal life.

We enter her life as she's two ranking spots away from qualifying for the Paralympics. She only has two international competitions left to make Team USA, forcing her to train relentlessly. Other international fencers who rank ahead of her have the luxury of fencing full-time. Most governments fund and support Olympic training through sports ministries. Victoria, on the other hand, like many Team USA athletes, must  fund her own training. Victoria works at a local horse farm while squeezing in fencing training whenever she has the energy and time.

Victoria suffers from what she calls a hidden disability, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a rare genetic disease that affects her connective tissues. She begins to rely on her wheelchair more often, and the thought of never living an independent life again starts to creep in.

In March 2020, her life, and the entire world, change when the coronavirus pandemic brings society to a halt. As her last chance to qualify for the team is canceled, Victoria is forced to quarantine in her home, afraid to leave due to her immunocompromised status. When the Olympics and Paralympics are delayed until 2021, Victoria wonders if she can maintain her health and training long enough to make the team.

Through intimate interviews with her mentor and coach, Eric Soyka, her parents, Dawn and Henry, and Victoria's teammates, Victoria's Foil  tells the story of a young fighter facing the reality that her future might be much different from the one she wanted. It's a heroic tale of Victoria continuously adjusting her path, facing the unplanned, and launching into the unknown.

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