Mark your calendars now for a free showing of the basketball documentary “On the Shoulders of Giants: The Story of the Greatest Team You Never Heard Of” at NJIT on July 20 at 7 p.m. The film was released in February of 2011. The showing is part of the Newark Black Film Festival, now in its 37th year, offering free independent films celebrating African American history and culture.
The series typically offers along with the screening an exciting discussion afterwards. The showing of this film, written and co-produced by no less a basketball legend than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, will be no different. Producer and executive director Deborah Morales and director of photography Bobby Shepard will speak afterwards.
The Festival is free of charge to the public. The 2011 Festival season is made possible by a grant from Bank of America. It is administered by the Newark Museum and planned by the Newark Black Film Festival Selection Committee, which includes screenwriter and playwright Richard Wesley, who wrote the screenplays for Let's Do It Again, Uptown Saturday Night, Native Son and more.
The film honors a group of sports pioneers who have been all but forgotten to time, and it celebrates the legacy of a magical game – and the shoulders that today’s players stand on. This story finds its footing in the rhythms of jazz, its roots in the Harlem Renaissance and its voice in a group of players much too talented to be ignored.
Basketball today is a star sport, with the highly paid players, endorsements, and the fan base to prove it. But that wasn’t always the case. In the beginning, those who tried to make a living at it, black or white, had a hardscrabble life. But one immigrant from the West Indies, Bob Douglas, loved the new sport of basketball and was determined to make it profitable. To do this, he would not only have to fight for the game itself, but against the rampant racism that was determined to see him fail.
His team, the New York Renaissance Big Five, affectionately known as the Harlem Rens, became the embodiment of a new attitude among African Americans who fought to be recognized for their abilities rather than for the color of their skin. They were the precursors to those brave men and women who, 20 years later, would found the Civil Rights Movement. For more information about the film, please visit http://kareemabduljabbar.com/?page_id=182