Get to Know sasha
Sasha Joseph Neulinger is a hockey player, backcountry adventurer, husband, speaker, and filmmaker - he also happens to be a survivor of multi-generational child sexual abuse.
Sasha in 1991
The early years
After a decade of battling to reclaim his voice, Sasha moved to Bozeman, Montana in 2008 to study film production at Montana State University. For the first time in more than fourteen years, he could experience life without abuse being the primary focus of his existence. Outside of classes he fly fished blue-ribbon trout streams, hiked countless peaks, and began to explore what brought him joy in life. He started to see that despite his tumultuous childhood, he still had an entire lifetime waiting to be lived.
But there was still more work to be done.
In many facets of his life, Sasha was thriving. He was a straight-A student, physically fit, and enjoying a healthy social life. Despite his best efforts to truly move forward, there were lingering symptoms from his childhood trauma that continued to tug at him, and there was still a voice within Sasha that worked to pull him from the present moment, into a place of self-doubt, fear, and insecurity. He realized that this tug-of-war that was happening inside of him was an indication of lingering and unresolved wounds from his childhood. He knew that in order to truly move forward with his life, he’d have to revisit his childhood, search for the source of his cognitive disconnect, and confront his demons head on.
Revisiting the past
Shortly after graduating college in 2013, Sasha asked his dad to send him all of the home videos that had been filmed during his childhood. In watching the 200 hours of home videos:
“I got to observe my childhood with a certain level of objectivity. It was the first time that I could cognitively accept that I was beautiful and lovable. In watching myself grow up, I got to re-experience and reclaim some of the most beautiful moments of my life… moments that I had completely forgotten about because they had been overshadowed by the painful ones.”
As Sasha watched himself as a child, in proximity to his abusers, he saw his own innocence and helplessness with newfound clarity. Re-watching his childhood provided Sasha some validation, a reminder that he had nothing to do with what his abusers chose to do to him—but that he had everything to do with the strength and resilience it required to hold his abusers accountable.
Watching the footage answered many of his questions while sparking a whole list of new ones. In response to his experience, Sasha decided to direct REWIND, an autobiographical documentary following his journey to confront, unpack and understand the multi-generational child sexual abuse that haunted him and his family. REWIND had its world premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival and received rave reviews.
"A wrenching self-portrait that joins “The Tale” and “Leaving Neverland” on the list of essential recent films about the internalization of trauma.”- David Ehrlich, Indiewire
“Rewind” is a deeply personal, revealing, and unforgettable piece of filmmaking. It contains revelations as harrowing as those chronicled in HBO’s "Leaving Neverland," but imagine if the interview subjects in that film were directing their own documentaries and using their own home movies to tell their stories.- Brian Tallerico, Rogerebert.com
"Sasha Joseph Neulinger's disquietingly effective doc memoir uses home-video footage to capture the cyclical nature of child sexual abuse.”- Owen Gleiberman, Variety
A new path forward
“Healing is not a destination—it’s a journey.”
Sasha doesn’t claim to understand the journey of every survivor. But by sharing his story with the world, he is working to empower survivors to look inward and recognize their strength. Both with his public speaking engagements and REWIND, Sasha is doing everything he can to make an impact in the fight against child sexual abuse.
REWIND is now embarking on an international film tour. In the spring of 2020, REWIND will be part of the Independent Lens series that will air on PBS - bringing the film into 280 million households nationwide.
Sasha and REWIND can be a part of your next event. Let us know how we can support the important work you are doing.