MLK High football documentary set to premiere at Tribeca Film Festival, ESPN2 and locally [video]

Their season started with external uncertainties about whether players and students from rival high schools could peacefully share hallways, locker rooms and sidewalks after one Northwest Philadelphia institution was shuttered.

What ensued, from the sporting perspective of the Martin Luther King High School Cougars football team, was nothing short of a gridiron fairy tale.

Now, that story — in a documentary titled “We Could Be King” — will be shared with audiences from the Tribeca Film Festival, at the school itself, on ESPN2 and in New York City and Los Angeles theaters.

In fact, players, coaches and supporters will take a bus from West Oak Lane on Wednesday to walk the red carpet at the film-festival premiere.

Local reaction

A sneak preview released on YouTube hinted that the film will take an unflinching look at life inside the Stenton Avenue school, and in the homes of players.

Principal William Wade told NewsWorks on Monday that he welcomes that.

“We have our challenges here, and this has helped bring about a wider awareness of them,” he said. “There are 1,000 stories I could talk about, and not just about football, either. This film can appeal to the community, showing them our needs here, and to the policymakers as well.”

How it ended up on ESPN

John Lasker is ESPN Digital Media’s vice president of content strategy and acquisitions.

He said Tuesday that a commitment to sharing “high-quality storytelling through various formats that range a variety of topics, emotions and challenges in the sports world and society as a whole” was a driving force behind the network’s involvement.

“Through our existing partnerships with TriBeCa Films and Dicks Sporting Goods, we are proud to present this story to our audience,” he told NewsWorks. “[‘We Could Be King’] captures the essence of what is possible in sports and in life, even in the face of seemingly impossible challenges.”

The backstory

Flatbush Pictures embedded with the team, and its players and coaches, from preseason through an opening-day loss, the school’s first-ever Public League championship, National Signing Day festivities and beyond.

Flatbush, in conjunction with Dick’s Sporting Goods, will premiere “We Could Be King” on Wednesday night as part of the Tribeca Film Festival (highlights were screened at SXSW last month).

Scheduled to join the team, its supporters and director Judd Ehrlich on the red carpet are Michael B. Jordan (an actor who appeared on the telvision show “Friday Night Lights” and the movie “Fruitvale Station”), Victor Cruz of the New York Giants and ESPN personality/former Eagle Mike Golic.

It will open theatrically, in New York City and Los Angeles two days later, followed by an 8 p.m. airing on ESPN2 this Saturday.

Before ESPN2, though, locals unable to join the team in NYC on Wednesday, will be able to catch a pair of screenings at the Stenton Avenue school.

Fernando Gallard, spokesman for the School District of Philadelphia, said students will be able to see it at 1 p.m. on Thursday, with the community at large invited to attend a 6 p.m. showing.

NewsWorks will attend Wednesday night’s premiere for a story to run on Thursday.

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