Director: Tod S. Lending
Screenwriters: Tod S. Lending

Institute History

  • 2000 Sundance Film Festival


At the outset, Legacy appears to be yet another exposé on the debilitation of urban poverty; its subject is the Collins family, who have raised their children on welfare in the absence of paternal support for over three generations. Undereducated and unemployed, the Collins women reside in one of Chicago’s oldest and most dangerous housing projects; each day they are bombarded by the chronic menaces of addiction and violence. But against seemingly insurmountable life reversals, the family rises, finding the inner strength and resolution to break the cycle of poverty.
On the first day of filmmaking, tragedy strikes the family when fourteen-year-old Terell, a community model and straight-A student, is gunned down outside his home. Narrating Legacy, his cousin Nicole describes the family’s devastation at Terrell’s loss and their extraordinary determination to transform his legacy into a source of inspiration for their resilience and revival. Struggling to provide stability for her troubled daughters, Alaissa (Nicole’s mother), and Wanda (Terrell’s mother), Nicole’s grandmother, Dorothy, dedicates herself to keeping her grandchildren safe and in school. Since they face severe economic, social, and psychological barriers, the prospect of graduating from the projects, welfare, and addiction, let alone a university, is so daunting it would seem to take a miracle.
A stunning saga of one family’s ascendancy from the grips of despair, writer/director/producer Tod Lending’s Legacy is a masterwork of unique inspiration. With a style that is immediate, trusting, and incredibly intimate, Lending’s six-year odyssey is a majestic tribute to the dignity and perseverance of one family against the odds and untold adversity. —Rebecca Yeld

Screening Details

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