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  • Directed by: Tod Lending
  • Produced by: Tod Lending
Released: 2000
Running Time: 90 min

Subjects: African American Studies, Socioeconomics, Children, Youth and Family,

Academy Award-nominee for Best Documentary


LEGACY is the unflinching chronicle of one family’s triumphant journey out of poverty and despair. Touchingly narrated by Nickcole Collins, a teenage girl wise beyond her years, the film follows the Collins family over five years as they slowly pull themselves out of the haze of poverty, drug addiction, and violence that plagues their public housing project in Chicago. Stereotype-busting and open-minded, LEGACY paints the American Dream in honest colors to rousing effect. Improbably, the senseless killing of 14-year-old Terrell, a straight-A student and role model for the neighborhood, spurs the family to seek a better life against impossible odds. Nickcole’s mother, a high school dropout, moves in fits and starts to find a meaningful job. Aunt Wanda, mother of Terrell and longtime crack addict, enrolls herself in a drug treatment program. Nickcole catapults herself out of the inner-city trap to a college degree and a comfortable life. It’s impossible not to cheer for these incredible real-life heroes as they cry and laugh, stumble and get back up again on their way to something better. In LEGACY, award-winning filmmaker Tod Lending does that rarest of things—he gives voice to the voiceless. The result is a stirring, must-see film that is “inspirational in the best sense of the term.” (Variety) 


  • Academy Award Nominee for Best Feature Documentary 
  • National Emmy Nomination for Best Documentary
  • Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism
  • Council on Foundations Honor
  • Official Selection, Sundance Film Festival
  • Official Selection, Cinema du Reel (Paris)
  • Innovation in Documentaries Award, Reel Screen Magazine
  • Pare Lorenz Nomination, International Documentary Association
  • Best Feature Documentary Nomination, International Documentary Association 


"This documentation of a young girl’s stunning triumph is rigorous and magical, a triumph of the will in all of the best senses." — The Hollywood Reporter
"...an inspirational story and a very moving film." — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times
"Legacy, a powerful documentary that moved me up, up, and far away from the jangle at Sundance... That an audience could be so inspired by pictures on a screen is the reason I look forward to climbing that hellish Main Street hill, huffing and hopeful, year after year." — Entertainment Weekly
"... a subtly shaded image of hope and perseverance, flourishing where it is most precariously endangered." — L.A. Weekly
"A stunning saga of one family’s ascendancy from the grips of despair, writer/producer/director Tod Lending’s Legacy is a masterwork of unique inspiration. With a style that is immediate, trusting, and incredibly intimate, Lending’s six-year odyssey is a majestic tribute to the dignity and perseverance of one family against the odds of untold adversity." — Sundance Film Festival