Megunticook Rowing and The Camden International Film Festival have collaborated for a screening of “A Most Beautiful Thing” at 8 p.m. Friday, July 31, at the new Shotwell Drive-In Theater in Rockport.

The film, based on Arshay Cooper’s memoir, Suga Water, which has just been republished as A Most Beautiful Thing, chronicles the first African American high school rowing team in the nation, comprised of teens from Chicago’s West Side, many of whom were from rival gangs. It takes a deep dive into the backstories of these young men, examining the issues of intergenerational trauma and violence. Cooper writes, “When we were on the water, we were in a place where we couldn’t hear the sound of sirens or bullets, and that allowed us to shape a different vision for ourselves, of who and what we could become. And that was a most beautiful thing.”

In the wake of the death of a coach, the men decide to reunite after 20 years, to race once more, for their children and for their community. In an extraordinary turn of events, Cooper invited members of the Chicago Police Department to join their reunion team. What happened was unexpected for all involved. The release of this film, which highlights the talent and work ethic of young people cast in sharp relief against lack of access and opportunity, as well as the events of the past month, is now more resonant than ever.

“Every day, Americas of color face a long list of challenges and oppression, a list too long and too painful to recite here,” said Executive Producer Grant Hill in a news release. “With the recent events that have transpired, it is even more meaningful to be a part of a project which shows young black men, in a positive, human and hopeful way. The protagonist of the film, Arshay Cooper, and his extension of an olive branch to members of the Chicago Police Department, moved me in a deep profound way. He is a leader of his generation and his name will be one that soon everyone will know.”

“A Most Beautiful Thing” is narrated by Grammy and Oscar-winning artist Common, executive produced by NBA Hall of Famer Grant Hill, NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade, Grammy-winning producer 9th Wonder, and directed by award-winning filmmaker and Olympic rower, Mary Mazzio.

Tickets cost $28.50 per vehicle and must be purchased in advance at megunticookrowing.org.

For tickets, or more information, email [email protected], or call 619-823-1212.

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