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INDEPENDENT LENS: Supergirl

Airs Monday, Dec. 18, 2017 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Naomi at a powerlifting completion.

Credit: Courtesy of Carmen Delaney/Supergirl Film LLC

Above: Naomi at a powerlifting completion.

Meet the Orthodox Jewish Preteen Who Has Been Breaking Powerlifting Records Since She Was Nine

When Naomi Kutin, an Orthodox Jewish girl from New Jersey, broke a world powerlifting record at the age of ten – lifting 215 pounds when she herself weighed only 97 pounds – she quickly became a media sensation, earning the nickname “Supergirl.”

This fascinating, intimate portrait follows her unique coming-of-age story as she fights to hold on to her title while navigating the perils of adolescence — from strict religious obligations to cyberbullying to health issues that could jeopardize her future in powerlifting.

Directed by Jessie Auritt, “Supergirl” premieres on INDEPENDENT LENS, Monday, Dec. 18, 2017 on PBS.

S19 Ep3: Supergirl

Naomi Kutin seems like a typical Orthodox Jewish preteen from New Jersey, until her extraordinary talent — breaking world powerlifting records — turns her into an international phenomenon and transforms her family. Supergirl follows Naomi’s unique coming-of-age as she fights to hold on to her title while navigating the perils of adolescence. Can she still be “Supergirl” if she can no longer break

Filmed over the course of three years, beginning when Naomi was 11, through her Bat Mitzvah at 12, through age 14, “Supergirl” follows Naomi and her family through training and powerlifting events as well as documenting their strong faith and involvement in the Orthodox community.

While powerlifting may not seem like a typical choice for a young girl, the sport is a family affair. Naomi’s father is an accomplished powerlifter himself and younger brother Ari has also taken up the sport.

Supergirl - 80-Pound Recordbreaking Powerlifter

In this clip from the INDEPENDENT LENS film "Supergirl," we see how Naomi Kutin — starting at age 8 — surprised her parents with her ability to powerlift, despite her tiny 80-pound frame. At first people thought, "oh she's just some kid," but then she started breaking American records, beating women in their 30s and 40s, and was off to the races.

As the years pass and Naomi grows and matures, she struggles to stay in her weight class and continue her winning streak.

Can this young woman still be “Supergirl” if she can no longer break world records?

With her close family supporting her, Naomi begins a journey toward self-acceptance, discovering the importance of both inner and outer strength.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Carmen Delaney/Supergirl Film LLC

Naomi, the subject of "Supergirl," at school.

“If you ever wanted to be a superhero, Naomi Kutin’s story is proof that it is possible,” said Lois Vossen, INDEPENDENT LENS executive producer. “In addition to Naomi, the film reveals the story of her remarkable family — unorthodox Orthodox Jews who sometimes resemble human versions of The Incredibles. At a time when many of us feel helpless, 'Supergirl' proves we should never give up on ‘the little guy’ — except today's superhero is a super girl.”

WATCH ON YOUR SCHEDULE:

Full episodes are available to stream on demand for a limited time after broadcast.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION:

INDEPENDENT LENS is on Facebook, Instagram, and you can follow @IndependentLens on Twitter. #IndieLensPBS.

CREDITS:

Director/Producer/Editor: Jessie Auritt. Producer/Cinematographer: Carmen Delaney. Co-Producer: Justin Levy. Editor: Erik Dugger. Composers/Producers: Eliot Krimsky and Derek Nievergelt. For INDEPENDENT LENS Lois Vossen as executive producer.

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