A local Major League Soccer booster group forms before there’s even a team. Then the very presence of the Sons of Ben helps prompt the league to create the team Philadelphia Union. It sounds too remarkable to be true, but it really happened.
And now it’s the subject of a new documentary screening in Philadelphia Wednesday.
Yes, the story of the Sons of Ben seems beyond belief. And yet somehow, as it was happening, through a series of small developments, it felt ordinary, says Cory Furlan.
He’s one of the founders of the Sons of Ben.
“I kind of laughed him off at first,” says Furlan, when he heard that a filmmaker wanted to document the story. “I was like, no way. You know, we were just a bunch of guys hanging out, wanted to have fun, and this guy from Hollywood wants to make a story about it? Like, OK, cool. I’ll believe it when I see it.”
In the end, Furlan did see it. He flew to Barcelona for a film festival that screened the documentary, “Sons of Ben: The Movie.”
“And we’re sitting in this room, and we’re watching the film on the screen with strangers I’ve never met before, and after the film, they’re like ‘oh my God, this is unbelievable,” he says.
Unbelievable, and unprecedented, says filmmaker Jeff Bell.
“It’s a supporters group for a team that didn’t exist,” says Bell. “That’s unique, it’s never been done in any professional sports setting. I’ve looked far and wide to try to find this story or something similar to it.”
The movie trailers contain your garden variety inspirational quotes from the documentary interviews. But Bell says one of the most surprising parts of the film was how the Sons of Ben reacted to the Union’s stadium being placed in Chester — one of the poorest cities in the country.
“Sons of Ben weren’t too happy about that,” he says. “But something changed within them. They’re like look, if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen here. Let’s make the best of the situation.”
Part of the film details how the Sons of Ben started a charity called “Help Kick Hunger” to benefit the residents of Chester.
“Sons of Ben: The Movie” is playing Wednesday night at the Trocadero and the Ritz East theater in Philadelphia. Click above to watch the trailer.