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2003  |  24 mins  |  English

The Tigers are all-smiles until they begin their journey to the national cheerleading championships and the young girls realize that more is at stake than their spankies.

Cheerleader explores the quest to be a champion, the experience of being female, and the ins and outs of an All-American pastime, all through the eyes of some of the nation's youngest cheerleaders.


The film also traces the history of the sport, with viewpoints ranging from former cheerleaders and disgruntled parents to a sociologist and a little boy who thinks cheerleaders are “hot.”


Brace yourself for a world of curly ponytails, cartwheels and cutthroat competition–this is cheerleading in the 21st century!


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Distributed by Documentary Educational Resources

Order the film or arrange a screening through DER. For questions, contact DER at or (617) 926-0491.

The film can also be streamed directly on:


The film aired nationally on HBO Family in 2005.

Original footage shot for the film is part of our Making Waves Films collection at ‘Ulu‘ulu: The Henry Ku‘ualoha Giugni Moving Image Archive of Hawai‘i and is open for research.

Below is a list of known screenings of the film. If you know of other screenings, please let us know so we can add them here.

Women Sports Film Festival, Online, 2020

International Museum of Women, "Imagining Ourselves" online exhibit, 2007

University of Hawai‘i Outreach College2006
Fresh Film Festival, Limerick, Ireland, 2006
DER 35th Anniversary Celebration, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, 2006
DocNZ International Documentary Film Festival, Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin, New Zealand, 2005
Future Femme – Visions for the New Millennium, San Francisco and San Diego, CA, 2005
Girl Fest Hawai‘i, Honolulu, HI, 2005
Dokufest, International Documentary and Short Film Festival, Prizren, Kosovo, 2005
Woods Hole Film Festival, Woods Hole, MA, 2005
Reel Venus Film Festival, New York, NY, 2005
Pärnu International Documentary and Anthropology Film Festival, Pärnu, Estonia, 2005
Jacksonville Film Festival, Jacksonville, FL, 2005
Kodak Emerging Filmmaker Showcase, Cannes Film Festival, Cannes, France, 2005
Absolute Time Film Festival, San Francisco, CA, 2004
Academy Award Nominated Short Documentaries, Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline, MA, 2005
Calgary International Film Festival, Calgary, Canada, 2004
First Take International Student Film Festival, Toronto, Canada, 2004
31st Annual Student Academy Awards Ceremony, Beverly Hills, CA, 2004
31st Annual Student Academy Awards Regional Finals, Portland, OR, 2004
Tambay Film and Video Festival, Tampa, FL, 2004
Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA, 2004
Spindletop Film Festival, Beaumont, TX, 2004
Santa Fe Film Festival, Santa Fe, NM, 2003
University of California Berkeley Documentary Showcase, Oakland, CA, 2003
Film Arts Festival of Independent Cinema, San Francisco, CA, 2003
Northwest Asian American Film Festival, Seattle, WA, 2003
Los Angeles International Short Film Festival, 2003


produced, directed, written & edited by
Kimberlee Bassford


Kimberlee Bassford
Kerry Eleveld
Shilpi Gupta
Kelli Nero


Turaya Bryant
Carlos Cruz
Kate Davidson
Kerry Eleveld


additional crew
Kimberlee Bassford
Carlos Cruz
Todd Dayton
Vanessa Kaneshiro
Hadas Ragolsky
Melis Senerdem
Annelise Wunderlich


music composed by
Justin Melland


narrated by
Cynthia Gorney


creative advisors
Jon Else
Deborah Hoffmann


Jon Else
Joan Bieder
Laura Grindstaff


technical advisor
Kean Sakata


online editor
Karen Everett


archival footage courtesy of
Anestis Diakopoulos
Robert Lerner
Library of Congress
National Archives
Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts
Princeton University Archives
Punahou School Archives, Honolulu, Hawai’i
Universal Newsreel Collection
University of Minnesota Archives
University of Mississippi
Yale University Athletic Department Archives


your turn
lyrics, music & vocals by
Justin Melland

trumpet performed by
David Bithell


Tara Amodeo
Racquel Andrade and family
Joel Balthaser
Roy Baril
Michael Bassford
Diana Beck and family
Pamela Bettis
Celia Bortfeld
Joey Bortfeld
Alexis Campos and family
Shelby French and family
Mary Ellen Hanson
Bill Hofheimer
Kim Irwin
Raylene Kahn
Bonnie Kranz
Kylee Kurita
Michael LaBouff
Jennifer Levonius
Lisa Moroski
Lysa Northup
Steve Ojeda
Kimberly Thompson
Allie Vent and family
Joann Wagner
Whitney Wagner
Milt Wallace
Candace Won
Irma and Bill Zelina


special thanks
Los Gatos Tigers cheerleaders and their families
Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc.
Walt Disney World Company


This film was made possible by a grant from Gina Despres.

Produced at the Graduate School of Journalism, University of California Berkeley.

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