HELP US REACH OUR PREMIERE
ALTHEA has been accepted into prestigious film festivals this Spring, but in order to screen, we need to come up with more than $100,000 in order to license and transfer archival materials and prep the film for the big screen!
ALTHEA's story is still unknown to most of us. It has been ignored for too long, by too many. Help us rescue it, and share her incredible tale with audiences around the United States and the world! Help us prove to broadcasters and distributors that there is indeed an audience for this story, and it cares enough about Althea's story being told to donate hard-earned money to support it's telling.
We don't have much time - we need to raise this money NOW. Contributions to the film, big and small, are incredibly important and each one increases our chance to share the important, yet under-told, unknown story of an American sporting icon.
Director Rex Miller began searching for Althea’s story because of a photograph that hung on the wall of his childhood bedroom. Taken in 1960, it shows two brown-skinned women, dressed in their tennis whites, holding tennis rackets and standing on the front lawn of the Merion Cricket Club, a prestigious and highly restricted tennis club outside of Philadelphia. One woman was his mother, Millicent Miller. The other was Althea Gibson. .
Miller says, “I was told that story from a very young age, the story of my mom’s big (and fleeting) moment of glory, a chance to play the Wimbledon Champion Althea Gibson.
Over the years I came to realize that most people--even in tennis--have little idea of who she was and all she accomplished. Not only did she succeed in Tennis, but in Golf and music as well. Fifty years after she broke the color barrier, I think it is time for a fitting recognition of the legacy of this great champion and trailblazer.”
The film is a lyrical, poetic, fluid piece. It includes archival material, first person interviews, re-enactments, primary source materials (newspapers, letters), animation, and a fantastic score. It is not your typical historical documentary - we are taking an innovative approach to archives, music and storytelling. Here is one of our favorite examples:
PROVEN SUCCESS - OUR TEAM
director/dp/producer: Rex Miller
producer/editor: Elisabeth Haviland James
producer: Nancy Buirski
composer: David Mazjlin
The team behind the Emmy-winning film, THE LOVING STORY
Our team collaborated to make THE LOVING STORY a great success. That film won a Peabody Award, the Emmy for Outstanding Historical Program, garnered two additional Emmy's, was short-listed for the Academy Award, played theatrically, on HBO, in dozens of festivals and is currently screening at more than 500 libraries and universities around the country as part of an initiative of the NEH. We hope to replicate this success in sharing ALTHEA, another story about overcoming impossible odds in a segregated country in the 1950s.
On August 29, 1950, Althea Gibson stepped onto the courts of the famed West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, NY to take part in the tournament we now know as the U.S. Open. Her near-win was marked with the kind of drama usually reserved for warring mythological gods: dark clouds stormed the sun, thunder roared, thick drops of rain pelted the ground, and lightning struck one of the iconic cement eagles of the stadium’s facade and sent it hurtling to the ground. Even Althea, who resisted defining her career in terms of racial politics, later reflected that it might have been “an omen that times was changing.”
The first black tennis player to compete at this elite level, Althea slammed her way through the color barrier into the world of international tennis. With a style of play she described as “aggressive, dynamic, and mean,” Althea brought a fierce athleticism to the women’s game, ushering in a new era in the sport. Her singles win at Wimbledon drew the attention of the world and a ticker-tape parade along Broadway.
ALTHEA does more than celebrate a trailblazer in the world of sports. With rarely seen archival photographs and interviews with those closest to Althea, the film creates a rich portrait of the African American community of 1950‘s Harlem who saw her potential and nurtured her talent – including the exclusive Cosmopolitan Tennis Club, where the black professional elite pursued tennis on private courts of their own. If her rough edges alienated some, Althea also inspired fierce loyalty. ALTHEA is a tribute to the remarkable friendships and mentors who made her transformation from a street kid to the Queen of the Courts a reality.
OUR FUNDRAISING GOAL: $100,000
Indiegogo Donations: $30,000 (approx $23,000 to go)
Durham Fundraising Party: $7,500
Private Investors: $62,500 ($50,000 left to go)
We have a committment for an additional $35,000 investment once we have hit a total $40,000 from any combination of the above sources!
WHY WE NEED IT
First and foremost - archival licensing! With over 400 photographs and dozens of archival film clips used in the telling of Althea's story, including many never-before-seen images, the archival material licensing fees are the single largest line-item in our budget! ALTHEA can't play in film festivals, on television, in theaters, via online platforms, dvd or even in community settings without clearing this material. It is the heartbeat of our story, and we need your help to make sure we can share it!
OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP
Even if you can't personally donate, please get out and make some noise about this fundraising campaign. Share it with your friends, your family, your colleagues, your audience! Blog about it. Link to this page! Every bit helps!