Common, Grant Hill And Dwyane Wade Backed Documentary About First All Black High School Crew Team Set To Debut At SXSW

“A Most Beautiful Thing” chronicles how a group of Black kids from Chicago fell in love with the sport.

Attendees at next month’s (March 13-22) South by Southwest Conference & Festivals in Austin, Texas will have the opportunity to view the premiere of Mary Mazzio’s latest documentary, A Most Beautiful Thing

The feature is narrated and executive produced by multi-talented Grammy and Academy Award-winning artist, Common, executive produced by NBA legends Grant Hill and Dwyane Wade, and tells the story of the first all Black high school crew team in America. 

Manley Career Academy High School located on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois, introduced the sport to its students in 1997 via Ken Alpart and Michael O'Gorman, both fromer crew team members, who wanted to expose inner city kids to some of the key values taught in the sport. They started by bringing an empty crew shell into the cafeteria and playing videos of Olympic crew races.

What followed was a transformation in the lives of many of the crew team members, who grew up in challenging situations. 

A Most Beautiful Thing is based on team captain, Arshay Cooper’s, award-winning self-published memoir, “Suga Water,” detailing his experiences as a member of the nation’s first all-Black crew team. The film also delves into the lives of the other members, examining issues of trauma, race and violence.

“When we were on the water, we were in a place where we could not hear the sound of sirens or bullets,” said Cooper. “And that allowed us to shape a different vision for ourselves, of who and what we could become. And that was a beautiful thing.”

Related: Black Olympic Fencer Keeth Smart Overcame Adversity To Succeed In A White Sport

Twenty years later, in the wake of the death of one of their coaches, Cooper and some of his former teammates decide to come back together for one final race. Doing so inspires the next generation within their community. 

The film's soundtrack is produced by superstar producer 9th Wonder and features original tracks by Femdot, Reuben Vincent, King Draft and Swank, Ian Kelly, GQ and other hip-hop artists, with beats by E. Jones, Kash, and Khrysis

A Beautiful Thing is directed by award-winning filmmaker and Olympic rower, Mary Mazzio. It will open theatrically on March 27th in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Boston, Miami, Philadelphia, Oakland, Seattle, and Washington D.C.

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