*NEW YORK — Bringing the sunshine to public television stations this winter, the independent film “Boys of Summer” introduces a scrappy but determined team of young ballplayers on a tiny Caribbean island who are battling to reach the Little League Baseball World Series.
The film is the final episode of season 6 of “AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange,” the series that brings documentaries about popular culture across the African Diaspora to the small screen.
“Boys of Summer” will premiere on the WORLD Channel on Monday, February 10, at 8 pm ET/10 pm PT and on additional public television channels to follow. “AfroPoP” is hosted by acclaimed actor Anthony Mackie (“8 Mile,” “The Hurt Locker” and “Pain & Gain”), produced by National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) and co-presented by American Public Television (APT).
Winner of the Latin American Film Festival Audience Award for Best Documentary, “Boys of Summer” is a feature film about the Curaçao Little League All-Stars, a team that has competed at the Little League World Series for an incredible seven consecutive years. Over the course of one summer, the boys face injuries and obstacles in an attempt to keep the winning streak alive. From a tiny Caribbean island that was once a slave trade center, comes a story of national pride beating all the odds.
Directed by Brooklyn filmmaker Keith Aumont, “Boys of Summer” began filming in 2008 in Curaçao, a country now being called “the new baseball island” by sports media and scouts after thirteen players ascended to the Major Leagues out of a population of only 150,000. Two Little Leaguers from the film—brothers Jurickson Profar and Juremi Profar—were recently signed to Major League Baseball contracts with the Texas Rangers.
“We are thrilled and honored that ‘Boys of Summer’ was included with so many great films in the ‘AfroPoP’ series, and that public television audiences will learn about this amazing island full of athletes whose hearts are bigger than their bodies,” said director Keith Aumont.
“Viewers of ‘Boys of Summer’ are in store for a heartwarming but nail-biting adventure as they become captivated by the lives of these children and their David-Goliath fight,” said NBPC Vice President and Director of Programming Leslie Fields-Cruz, who is also co-executive producer of the series.
Other films in this season of “AfroPoP” include: Bobbito García and Kevin Couliau’s “Doin’ It in the Park: Pick-Up Basketball, NYC,” Hoku Uchiyama’s “Upaj: Improvise,” Rebecca Richman Cohen’s “War Don Don,” and Daan Veldhuizen’s “Stories from Lakka Beach.”
For more information on the film, visit www.boysofsummerfilm.com. To learn more about “AfroPoP,” visit www.blackpublicmedia.org. For when and where to watch, check your local listings or go to www.worldchannel.org
ABOUT THE HOST
Anthony Mackie is an American television, feature film and stage actor. The Juilliard School’s Drama Division graduate was first discovered playing the role of Tupac Shakur in the off-Broadway production “Up Against the Wind.” Shortly thereafter, he made an auspicious film debut as Eminem’s nemesis, Papa Doc, in Curtis Hanson’s “8 Mile.” His performance caught the attention of Spike Lee, who cast Mackie in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival’s Masters program selection “Sucker Free City” and “She Hate Me.” He also appeared in Clint Eastwood’s Academy Award-winning “Million Dollar Baby,” opposite Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman and Eastwood. Additional film roles include “We Are Marshall”; “Half Nelson,” with Ryan Gosling; “Night Catches Us,” opposite Kerry Washington; “The Adjustment Bureau,” which also featured Matt Damon and Emily Blunt; “Real Steel,” with Hugh Jackman; “Gangster Squad,” where he shared the screen with Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, and Ryan Gosling; “Pain & Gain,” with co-stars Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson; and “Runner, Runner,” alongside Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake and Gemma Arterton. Mackie earned IFP Spirit Award nominations for his performances in Rodney Evans’s “Brother to Brother” and Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker.”
His theatrical credits on and off Broadway include “Drowning Crow,” “McReele,” “A Soldier’s Play,” and “A Behanding in Spokane.” Earlier, his Broadway debut was as the stuttering nephew, Sylvester, alongside Whoopi Goldberg in August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” He won an Obie Award for his role in Carl Hancock Rux’s “Talk.”
Mackie will soon join the Marvel Comics family playing Sam Wilson/the Falcon in the upcoming “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” set to be released on April 4, 2014.
ABOUT THE FILMS
Doin’ It in the Park; Pick-Up Basketball, NYC
by Bobbito García and Kevin Couliau
“Doin’ It in the Park: Pick-Up Basketball, NYC,” explores the history, culture and social impact of New York’s summer b-ball scene, widely recognized as the worldwide mecca of the sport, where pickup basketball is not just a sport but a way of life. There are 700+ outdoor courts, and an estimated 500,000 players, the most loyal of which approach the game as a religion, and the playground as their church. “Doin’ It in the Park” lovingly uncovers this movement through the voices of playground legends, NBA athletes and, most importantly, the common ballplayer, who all day looks forward to calling “next” (game) at his local schoolyard. The film is winner of the Audience Award for Best Feature 2012 Urbanworld Film Festival and Best Documentary at 2012 New Jersey International Film Festival.
Native New Yorker Bobbito García is the critically acclaimed author of “Where’d You Get Those? NYC’s Sneaker Culture: 1960-1987” (Testify Books). The former New York Knicks/MSG Network halftime reporter was the voice of EA Sports’ popular “NBA Street” video game and TV host of ESPN2’s “It’s the Shoes” series. Currently, he is the announcer for ESPNU’s Elite 24 Game and Red Bull King of the Rock Championship, as well as producer of his own Full Court 21 NYC Tournament. A self-proclaimed “outdoor b-ball activist,” Bobbito has played in 35 countries throughout five continents, and has acted as an ambassador for the sport, giving clinics and donating sneakers in many developing areas.
Frenchman Kevin Couliau is the director of “Heart & Soul of New York City,” a short film/music video about a season of New York City outdoor basketball, which has accumulated more than a million views online. He is widely recognized as the most prolific outdoor basketball photographer of the last decade. His images have appeared in Bounce magazine (U.S.), Fadeaway (U.K.) and Reverse magazine (France). As a director of photography, his work has been seen in Canal+ “The New Explorers” documentary series, Jordan Brand’s annual “Quai 54” TV/DVD series, the New York Knicks’ Battle of the Boroughs videos and as part of the Nike’s World Basketball Festival.
by Hoku Uchiyama
”Upaj” means “improvise” in the Hindi language, and this film explores the birth and journey of “India Jazz Suites,” a phenomenal East-meets-West collaboration featuring Indian Kathak master and guru Pandit Chitresh Das and tap star Jason Samuels Smith. In the film, Das is a 62-year-old artist who exemplifies the elegance and mathematical precision of Kathak, a classical, storytelling dance of North India. Jason is a 26-year-old African-American tap dancer hailing from the freestyle, streetwise American tradition of contemporary tap. As the two join forces, an unlikely friendship develops that bridges continents, generations, cultures and communities. Soon Das’s and Smith’s poignant personal stories unfold—stories wrought with loss, struggle and perseverance. As the two artists tell their truths and come to terms with their demons, they show us that our struggles are worthwhile, and “Upaj: Improvise” paves the way for hope and redemption.
Winner of a Cannes Young Director Award while a student at the Art Center College of Design (Pasadena, CA), Hoku Uchiyama has directed several award-winning films. His short film “Rose” has screened in more than 26 film festivals worldwide, winning awards in 12. The film was also featured in American Cinematographer magazine; and his work has screened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In addition to “Upaj: Improvise,” Hoku has directed commercials and music videos (with co-director Adam Bolt) for Starbucks and National Geographic as well as with the bands They Might Be Giants and Evelyn Evelyn.
War Don Don
by Rebecca Richman Cohen
In the heart of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, U.N. soldiers guard a heavily fortified building known as the “special court.” Inside, Issa Sesay awaits his trial. Prosecutors say Sesay is a war criminal, guilty of heinous crimes against humanity. His defenders say he is a reluctant fighter who protected civilians and played a crucial role in bringing peace to Sierra Leone. With unprecedented access to prosecutors, defense attorneys, victims and, from behind bars, Sesay himself, “War Don Don” puts international justice on trial for the world to see—finding that in some cases the past is not just painful, but also opaque.
Rebecca Richman Cohen is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker and a lecturer on law at Harvard Law School. Her work has been broadcast on public television, HBO, Al Jazeera, and the New York Times website. Between trips to Sierra Leone, she has been adjunct faculty at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), American University’s Human Rights Institute and, most recently, Columbia University. In 2010, Rebecca was profiled in Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” as an “up-and-comer poised to shape the next generation of independent film.” She is also a 2012–2013 Soros Justice Fellow.
Stories from Lakka Beach
by Daan Veldhuizen
A picturesque village having one of the finest beaches in Africa, Lakka developed into the epicenter of West African tourism. Ravaged by civil war, Lakka Beach’s tourist industry came to a standstill. But village life continues; and, in “Stories from Lakka Beach,” the voice of the villagers—including a fisherman, a carver, a restaurant owner, a local politician and an aspiring rapper—reveal a profound and different side of a war-torn community in a now-peaceful Sierra Leone. “Stories from Lakka Beach” won the Best Cinematography award from American Cinematographer magazine.
After studying audiovisual arts at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, Daan Veldhuizen has been working as a director, director of photography and editor for fiction and documentary films. Through his work he tries to make the unknown familiar and to tell stories that give us “new eyes.” His work is not about providing information, but about creating experiences that inspire. Daan is currently working on “Banana Pancakes and the Children of Sticky Rice,” a feature-length documentary about two worlds meeting in the remote jungle of northern Laos.
Boys of Summer
by Keith Aumont
On the tiny Caribbean island of Curaçao, manager Vernon Isabella has sent his All-Stars team to the Little League Baseball World Series for seven consecutive years, routinely defeating such baseball powerhouses as Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic to compete in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. As they again resume the battle to become world champions and with few resources behind them, Vernon and the boys learn the meaning of national pride in a story that travels from a humble ball field to the international spotlight and back.
Keith Aumont is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker who completed his master’s degree at the graduate film program at Columbia University School of the Arts. As president of the Putty Division, Keith produces and directs films, television programs, commercials, videos and interstitials for such companies as VICE Media, Nike, DSW, CMT and National Geographic. His short films have won a National Board of Review award and Microsoft’s Most Outstanding Digital Short award. “Boys of Summer” is Keith’s first feature film.
ABOUT THE PRESENTERS
ABOUT NATIONAL BLACK PROGRAMMING CONSORTIUM
National Black Programming Consortium, a national, nonprofit media arts organization, is the leading provider of black programming on public television and the greatest resource for the training of black media professionals within the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Black Public Media develops, produces and funds television and online programming about the black experience. Since its founding in 1979, it has provided hundreds of broadcast hours documenting African American history, culture and experience to public television. For more on NBPC and its initiatives, visit http://blackpublicmedia.org.
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ABOUT American Public Television
American Public Television (APT) has been a leading distributor of high-quality, top-rated programming to the nation’s public television stations since 1961. APT also has distributed about half of the top 100 highest-rated public television titles for nearly 10 years. Among its 300 new program titles per year, APT programs include prominent documentaries, news and current affairs programs, dramas, how-to programs, children’s series and classic movies. “America’s Test Kitchen From Cook’s Illustrated,” “Rick Steves’ Europe,” “Doc Martin,” “Nightly Business Report,” “Moyers & Company,” “NHK Newsline,” “Lidia’s Italy in America,” “Globe Trekker,” “Simply Ming,” “BBC World News” and “P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home” join numerous documentaries and performance programs popular with public television viewers. APT licenses programs internationally through its APT Worldwide service. Now in its seventh year, Create® TV—featuring the best of public television’s lifestyle programming—is distributed by APT. APT is also a partner in WORLD, public television’s premier news, science and documentary channel. To find out more about APT’s programs and services, visit APTonline.org.
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