CHESTERTOWN, MD—Chestertown’s first KICK Film Festival will bring two award-winning documentaries and a new video series on Shoremen basketball to the Garfield Center for the Arts Sunday, April 22. Sponsored by the Chestertown Spy, Washington College Department of Athletics, and the Echo Hill Outdoor School, this year’s inaugural KICK Festival aims to inspire students and community members alike with stories about dedicated athletes and the value of sports and outdoor play.
The Festival will kick off at 2:30 Sunday with the award-winning documentary Play Again, which explores the increasing loss of outdoor “playtime” for American children and its impact. The Play Again screening is sponsored by Echo Hill Outdoor School and has special meaning for the School’s associate director, Andrew McCown. “For forty years Echo Hill Outdoor School has been exploring nature with children, and Play Again confirms our belief in the importance of maintaining a human connection to the natural world,” he says. “It is about the value of spending time outside and what may be lost if we do not.”
That evening at 7:30, the focus will turn to basketball, with the award-winning documentary Hoop Dreams, which critic Roger Ebert praised as “one of the best films about American life that I have ever seen.” The movie (view the trailer here) tells the stories of two African-American teenagers recruited to play for a predominantly white high school with an outstanding basketball program. The two young men take 90-minute commutes to school, enduring long and difficult workouts and practices, and adjusting to a totally new social environment. The film raises a number of important issues concerning race, class, economic division, education and values in contemporary America.
“We selected Hoop Dreams as our first film because it remains the gold standard of what a sports documentary is all about,” says Bryan Matthews, director of athletics at Washington College. “I think it will be as meaningful to our college students as it will be for the students at Kent County High. It shows, in very dramatic ways, how the life of the body intersects with the life of the positive mind.”
Washington College men’s basketball head coach, Rob Nugent, who recently gained national headlines for his team’s sportsmanship, will introduce the film. As a bonus with strong local ties, Chestertown-based filmmaker Kurt Kolaja, whose 2010 documentary on the Kent County Marching Band won top honors at the Chesapeake Film Festival, will screen selections from his latest, an online documentary series on DIII basketball. Kolaja and his camera followed the Washington College Shoremen through a full season of practices and games to create a portrait of the coaches and scholar-athletes that personify Division III sports.
Students at Washington College and Kent County High School will be admitted to all films for free. All other adults are asked to make a donation at the door ($10 suggested). The Garfield Center for the Arts is located at the Prince Theatre, 210 High Street, downtown Chestertown. Click here to reserve tickets. For more information, visit the Garfield Center website or call the box office at 410-810-2060.