Of 21 Below
21 BELOW is the story of a young woman going home to face family wounds that she had hoped to escape. Sharon, who now lives outside of New York City, is pregnant with her ﬁrst child when she learns that the 14 month old daughter of her younger sister is dying from a rare genetic disease. It’s then she realizes that she can’t start a family of her own until she tries to help the family she’s left behind.
But back in Buffalo, Sharon discovers that the family feuds she hopes to alleviate could just as easily destroy her. Her youngest sister Karen, 21, is pregnant with her third child, and has a daughter, Maya, with only months to live. Their mother, Peggy is so hurt by Karen’s life choices that every gesture of help turns into a ﬁght. It’s near impossible for her to accept Courtney, the 29 year old African-American former gang member who’s the father of Karen’s expected child. Can the family ﬁnd peace after seeking common ground before the damage causes irreparable harm and they splinter forever? Can Maya’s mitigating circumstances bring a grand perspective to a seemingly hopeless situation?
Shot in Cinema Vérité style, against the once global industrial products landscape of Buffalo, 21 BELOW captures the real ‘real life’ of an American family in crisis. Angry, complex and at times funny, the story unfolds as a compassionate portrait of a family coming apart and the compromises required for reconciliation.