Documentary by Sandra Luckow Studied in Development of Oscar-Nominated film, 'I, Tonya'

February 6, 2018

The controversial dark comedy film, I, Tonya (2017)—which has received nominations for the Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice Movie, and Screen Actors Guild awards—draws data from Adjunct Assistant Professor Sandra Luckow’s 1986 documentary, Sharp Edges.


Sharp Edges, which was Professor Luckow’s honors thesis at Yale University and the film that helped to launch her career, explores the life of the ex-figure skater, Tonya Harding. In 1994, Harding gained notoriety for hindering prosecution in a case where her rival Olympic competitor was beaten; as a result, Harding was banned for life from competing and stripped of her silver Olympic medal. While Luckow’s Sharp Edges does not displace Harding’s role in the crime, the documentary also takes into account Harding’s abusive mother and husband.


Luckow was recently interviewed on an ABC special, Truth and Lies: The Tonya Harding Story, which aired on January 11, 2018. In the interview, Luckow—who trained as a figure skater and was also friends with Tonya Harding—stated, “Harding was certainly, beyond a doubt, the most talented skater in the Northwest anyone had ever seen...[But] she absolutely knew [about the attack]. I had no doubt in my mind.”


In an article in Elle, Devora Meyers writes about the new film, I, Tonya, “It seems that the public is ready to accept a new, more sympathetic narrative about Harding—one that acknowledges her abusive past…[However] at the end of the ESPN documentary, even childhood friend Luckow can't seem to believe that the ex-skater had no involvement in the attack.”


Currently, Luckow is in post-production with her latest documentary, That Way Madness Lies..., which explores mental illness and draws from Luckow’s brother’s experience living with schizophrenia.