One Strong Arm
“One Strong Arm” is an inspiring and sometimes funny portrait of an extraordinary young man. When he was 18 months old, Cody Wagner was diagnosed with a brain tumor. During surgery to remove it, he suffered a series of strokes that paralyzed one part of his brain and body. At the time, the doctors predicted he would never recover. They were wrong. Sixteen years later, with the support of his family and friends, Cody finds the one sport that will make him whole again…arm wrestling.
About the Filmmakers
Tiller Russell began making movies by chasing cockfighters through the American southwest, directing and producing the award-winning documentary Cockfight with Loren Mendell while still in film school. Since then, he’s shot crab fishermen in the Bering Sea, vigilantes and smugglers on the US/Mexican border, coal miners in Appalachia, electronica artists in Japan, baseball players in the Dominican Republic, itinerant circus performers, Texas lawmen, a half-paralyzed arm wrestler and numerous convicted murderers. His work has appeared on A&E, CBS, PBS, Discovery, Showtime, VH1, CMT, FX, Court TV, GAC and at film festivals around the world. Most recently, he co-directed the feature documentary “Bad Boys of Summer” with Loren Mendell, which premiered at the 2007 Slamdance Film Festival and won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Pacific Palisades Film Festival, as well as two music videos for Ray Wylie Hubbard. He is currently in pre-production on a feature film called “The Last Rites of Ransom Pride.” He is a member of the Director’s Guild of America and a graduate of USC’s School of Cinema-Television.
Loren Mendell is an award-winning filmmaker who began his career as an assistant at Creative Artists Agency and then spent two years working for feature film director Harold Becker. He has directed, produced and shot projects for A&E, History, PBS’ award-winning series Frontline/World, ABC, CBS and Discovery. Loren produced the Academy Award-nominated short film “Our Time is Up” and co-founded the independent documentary production company Angry Young Ranch, whose slate of films includes “One Strong Arm,” the IDA Award nominee “Cockfight” (PBS), “Change Up” (Discovery) and most recently the feature “Bad Boys of Summer.” He is currently directing a feature about Petey Greene, an ex-convict who became America’s first shock jock during the civil rights era. Loren has taught filmmaking at the University of California, Santa Barbara and volunteers for School on Wheels, a non-profit working to enhance educational opportunities for homeless children. He earned his MFA at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema-Television and his BA at the University of Pennsylvania.