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Critical Acclaim

“TRIAL BY FIRE: Lives Re-Forged” is a gripping, emotionally potent, often startling documentary about a remarkable group of burn survivors and their physical and psychological triumphs over adversity. Director Megan Smith-Harris masterfully interweaves the harrowing stories of a cross-section of Americans… Candid interviews with the victims and their devoted family members, personal photos, home video clips and archival new footage bring us so deeply into the forever-changed lives of the film’s stalwart subjects you’ll likely never look at – or look away from – a burn survivor again…You are all amazing.”

Gary Goldstein
Los Angeles Times

“This documentary is inspiring in the truest sense of the word, as something that demonstrates tangible grace, that makes you reconsider your own life, and what you’re capable of….a great way to inject some uplift into your day.”

Dan Schindel
CMR Movie Reviews

“Another inspirational doc, Megan Smith-Harris’ film explores the stories of a diverse range of burn survivors – from veterans to racecar drivers, firefighters to oil refinery workers, and more. Recounting their traumatic experiences, difficult recoveries, and the psychological and physical after effects of the burns, these subjects and their families demonstrate substantial inner strength that forces society to view them beyond their external scars… engaging and often touching.”

Basil Tsiokos
What(not)toDoc.com

WE LOVE IT!! Bravo.

Patrick Schweiss, Executive Director
Sedona International Film Festival

“The film offers a poignant and inspirational look into the positive outcomes of burn survivors. This is truly an important film.”

Tom Koch
PBS International

A perfect fit for the Global Peace Film Festival. “TRIAL BY FIRE: Lives Re-Forged” is inspiring and exudes hope and courage in the face of adversity.”

Kelly DeVine, Artistic Director
Global Peace Film Festival

“A Must-See!”

Real Screen Editorial Staff

Audience response from Rotten Tomatoes:


“Absolutely 5 stars. My whole family saw the film when it was in Cincy. My kids were spellbound. Our youngest daughter suffered a severe burn injury at age 3 months. Her life will never be the same…it and she will be stronger. This is a must see! Thank you to Megan and to those who ‘told their stories.’”

Julie T
August 23, 2012


“I am a doc junkie and this film is right up there with the best of them. It is moving, uplifting, and inspiring. Kudos to Megan Smith-Harris for having the courage to tackle such a difficult topic, and shine some much needed light on a subject we should all be more informed about.”

Kathryn O
August 18, 2012


“This documentary is fantastic, so emotional and up lifting. IT was remarkable watching those victims survive and excell in the face of such horror. I only hope this is broadcast to the entire world as a lesson in the beauty of the human spirit.”

Judy D
August 15, 2012


“Very impactful! Incredible and inspiring stories. Emotionally gripping and difficult to watch at times due to the intense trauma the burn survivors endured, but through it all there is a powerful and positive message. I definitely recommend it.”

Kelly W
August 15, 2012


“Excellent Documentary! It was a very candid, honest journey through the eyes of Burn Survivors, you travel through the pain of recovery, anger, addiction, acceptance and triumph…..it’s a 5 star in my book!”

Leela W
August 15, 2012


“Saw this last friday it was an incredible, beautiful life affirming film. I was lucky enough to meet some of the wonderful survivors. Every one should be required to see this film, its so powerful , touching and educational, I checked my smoke alarm when I got home… Just SEE it!”

Adrienne F
August 13, 2012


“I was so deeply touched by the stories in this movie. But better yet, I was challenged. The strange thing is I thought this movie was about burn victims, instead it was a story about courage, character and faith in ourselves. This movie changed me. I will never look at a burn victim again and not have a deep insight.”

Allanaaron
August 13, 2012


“Powerful and thought-provoking.You feel like you know these characters by the end of the film. The stories stay with you, giving you the strength to try a little harder than you thought you could.”

Janice G.
August 12, 2012


“TRIAL BY FIRE: Lives Re-Forged is an intensely gripping, moving and inspirational film. Bravo!”

Laurie D
August 12, 2012


“this a wonderful film with a great message of hope, courage, perseverance, and acceptance. Amazing stories of survival that contains life lessons we can all use in our daily lives. Bravo!!”

Harvey L.
August 8, 2012


An emotionally raw, heartwarming and inspirational film that speaks to the resilience and strength of the human spirit.. It also explores the role of human dignity in breaking down superficial barriers.

Becky B.
August 11, 2012

Audience response from previous screenings:

“I still have tears in my eyes. That line when Calais says, ‘everybody has something, some terrible life experience, this one just shows on the outside.’ This is so painfully beautiful.”

Sandy A.

“OMG!!!!!!! LOVED IT! Tears are in my eyes and rolling down my cheeks, but not sad tears – happy tears. I It didn’t make me squeamish. I saw the people and their story rather than the burns and the physical scars.”

Ellen L.

“Ohmygod! It’s incredible. Such a hugely compelling piece – and one that will affect how people look at burned faces.”

Charlotte V. A.

“Wow. It is fantastic. Really. So touching and so poignant, and the ending is great. Spot on in pacing, interviews, footage – an outstanding documentary. I really loved it.”

Julie C.

“What can I say? Compelling is an understatement. In fact there were parts where I found myself holding my breath – I was almost to the point where I couldn’t take any more sadness and wanted it to end when with perfect timing, you moved on to the hopeful part of the story.”

Jennifer McK.

“Compelling and inspirational. We live in a culture that measures and defines our self-value by how we look. We are spoiled to live in a country where vanity is a universal core value. I really had great empathy for the girls who experienced the loss of self, feeling empty, freakish, isolated and feeling different from others while they were so young and fragile. A beautiful title and ultimate message. I am always inspired by anyone who feels a sense of gratitude following a traumatic event, which helped them to identify their authentic selves.”

Josee LaF.

E-MAILS received after a screening:

“A Standing ‘O’ for you. Nicely, beautifully, wonderfully done. It is a moving, touching, educational film. Will there be hand-outs with fire safety tips et al for audience members in the future? Or a list of informational links? With hands clapping – loudly.”

From: judyh@ com
Subject: A STANDING ‘O’

“What a beautiful piece of work. We were both moved to tears MANY times during the screening. So happy to have been present for this groundbreaking treatment of a subject to which many close their eyes. You handled the painful and often heartbreaking matter with such grace. The subjects who were profiled were inspirational. In spite of the fact that some of it was difficult to watch, it is remarkable that in the final analysis, we are left with a sense of hope which is nothing short of uplifting! Talk about profiles in courage. Congratulations!”

From: Maureen and David Canary
Subject: Thursday Screening

“Have to tell u how unbelievably moving that film was. I can not stop thinking about it. Personally, it brought me back to the trauma and uncertainty we felt when we thought we were going to lose our daughter. I cried the entire time. But it was a beautiful and courageous and uplifting film. Congratulations! Something everyone should see.”

From: Julene G.
Subject: Film

“I wanted to let you know how impressed I was with your documentary film, Trial By Fire: Lives Re-Forged. Not only was it extremely engrossing and moving, it had a profound influence on my attitude toward fire safety. Though I have a soft spot in films and often tear up when a child loses a parent, I don’t recall having tears in my eyes throughout an entire film. You should not feel bad about this, but instead complimented on your profound ability to reach out to the emotions of your audience and to tell your story in a heartfelt but never over-dramatized way. Congratulations. I can’t imagine how huge an impact this film will make and has already made on the community affected by burns. I know that my wife and I will never look at these unfortunate survivors the same way again.”

From: T. Jay K, MD
Subject: TRIAL BY FIRE: Lives Re-Forged

“I wanted to let you know how impressed I was with your documentary film, Trial By Fire: Lives Re-Forged. Not only was it extremely engrossing and moving, it had a profound influence on my attitude toward fire safety. Though I have a soft spot in films and often tear up when a child loses a parent, I don’t recall having tears in my eyes throughout an entire film. You should not feel bad about this, but instead complimented on your profound ability to reach out to the emotions of your audience and to tell your story in a heartfelt but never over-dramatized way. Congratulations. I can’t imagine how huge an impact this film will make and has already made on the community affected by burns. I know that my wife and I will never look at these unfortunate survivors the same way again.

The burn victims in your film were injured in a wide variety of circumstances. I have been reminded how easily and how quickly life can change if we are not continually vigilant to the danger of fire. In my own experience, during our recent Nor’easter, while standing in the cold about to fill my generator, for a split second, I considered saving time by filling the fuel tank without shutting everything down. Though I don’t think that I would ever do something quite that thoughtless, I was reminded how easily a routine event, outside my own house, could turn deadly.

Changing the batteries in my home smoke detectors has been high on my iPhone “To Do” list for a long time, but I never got around to it. After seeing your film, I was influenced to make my home safer and to prepare each member of the family with a game plan, in the unlikely event of a house fire. Each smoke detector has had a battery change or has been replaced. I have reminders in my phone to change them on a regular basis. We have fire extinguishers on every floor now, and everyone knows where they are. Each bedroom has a flexible, easy to use, escape ladder and each of us has practiced deploying them. We have taught ourselves how to check the temperature of our doorknob and how to open a door properly during a fire. We have learned how to wrap ourselves, how to stay low, and how to cover our mouths with a damp cloth, if possible. And, finally, we have established a safe meeting point outside, in the event of a fire.

I am sure that those watching your film will be similarly influenced to improve their fire preparedness. I cannot help but think that your film will directly save countless lives. If it saves just one, or prevents a crippling injury to one person, it will have been a huge success.”

From: T. Jay K, MD
Subject: TRIAL BY FIRE: Lives Re-Forged

E-mails sent to us via the TRIAL BY FIRE web site:

“I am awed and inspired by this site, as my 13 year old grandson has recently sustained 3rd degree burns from his kneecap to his toes on one leg, playing with fire, unattended. As we are one week into his recovery, I find your site to be inspiring and informative. Thank you for making this documentary. I hope to be able to see it in its entirety some day soon.”

From: Michelle S.
Subject: Touched

“I’m looking forward to the chance to buy a copy of the film when it becomes available. I began working professionally on ambulances around NJ in 1993 and have since then. Many burn survivors. I am also a professional firefighter in New Brunswick NJ. I am one of the Firefighters that help manage our Chaplain program. Through my work in the US Coast Guard reserve, I’ve come to call anyone in trouble on the water a “survivor.” We also do that in our language in the NBFD Chaplain program. Many years and burn survivors later I look for ways to help beyond the initial hour. Much Love and Respect to you and the Survivors in your film.”

From: Christopher N.
Subject: Trial by Fire: Lives Re-forged Documentary Film

“Regarding the documentary, when and where will it be shown? I am a teacher and would love to share some of these stories with my classes when I begin to teach human anatomy in the spring. Since the regional burn center is just a few miles away, I thought this would be a great opportunity for my students to learn about tolerance as well.”
Cori M. Andrade, BS, EMS-I, BLS-I, Bassick High School Science Dept.

From: Cori M. A.
Subject: Documentary

“I am an adjunct instructor in the Fire Science program at NVCC in Waterbury Ct. I would like your permission to use your video and introduction clips for my first night class.The insight that it will give and the understanding that can never be delivered by words will be a dramatic opening to a class that intends to be dedicated to preventing and protecting our citizens.So many times these young men and women lose sight of the fact that after the fire there are lives that have been affected beyond their views and this will be a great reminder of the human value of their chosen profession. Thank you in advance.”

From: Robert N.
Subject: Documentary

“Just wanted to say…. How we take our lives for granted. Very touching. Very compelling. People who complain about a bad day….. Well, ( I also complain as due the majority of humans). But…Everyone should watch this flick and be thank-full that they weren’t in the short…. Well done.”

From: Paul R.
Subject: Nice work!!!

“My 7 year old was burned 4th degree over 85.6% of his body at the age of 2. I am now for the first time trying to find a way to live with it. I shut myself off for years. I just began a blog to help get started at http://aheartshope.wordpress.com/ I am in professional counseling and this seems like a natural next step.Please add me to the e-mail list at @ymail.com Please let me know how to help. I don’t have money anymore, and I work full time. But I need a reason for going on inside in addition to my son’s survival. Thank You for being here.”

From: Lynn G.
Subject: My son is a burn survivor

“I just watched a promo from Trial By Fire it touched my heart. My late husband was a firefighter back in 1995 he was trapped in a house fire leaving him with burns and a serious brain injury. He was left in a unaware state until 2005 when out of the blue he began to speak. In 2006 he died from complications from his injuries. These injuries stay with them and the families forever. This is a nice story that will help people while they are healing. Today I have 2 sons that are firefighters and one police officer. Helping others often helps us. Thank you for doing this film.”

From: Linda H.
Subject: Film

“I was fortunate enough to be in Galveston and hear JR speak. I was also at Melisa & Erin’s wedding ceremony…actually I was in Baltimore when they first met…in Edmonton when Melisa was in hospital and I was an early visitor to her in that hospital. I am a burn survivor myslef…I was burned in 1983 when I went into a fire in my living room to save my 5 yr old son (and yes he made it and is well worth the pain I went through).
Thank you for this film and if I can be of any help let me know.”

From: lynd
Subject: BS=Burn Survivor

“I have worked in burn care for the past 10 years as the community outreach educator and teach prevention, primarily to children. I have been a member of the American Burn Association’s Prevention Committee and am now on the Aftercare and Reintegration Committee. My work with burn survivors, especially with the Arthur C. Luf Children’s Burn Camp, has led me to pursue my MSW and I am currently in my last year at Fordham University. I would love to use the film as part of education and survivior support. Thanks so much for bringing attention to the courage and dignity of all burn survivors.”

From: Lisa M. J.
Subject: Member of Burn Community

“I was able to preview your documentary at World Burn Congress. What an amazing opportunity for awareness! A job well done! Thank you for taking the time to create such an inspiring story.”

From: Michelle S.
Subject: Screening at WBC

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