Acclaimed Filmmaker Debra Riley Hits Seed&Spark to Chronicle Untold Story of 18 African American Athletes in 1936 Olympic Games

Olympics 1936 3Atlanta-based Coffee Bluff Pictures is completing production of the highly anticipated documentary Olympic Pride, American Prejudice. History remembers one African American hero, Jesse Owens, from the 1936 Olympics, but this film shines a light on his other 17 accomplished teammates. Set against the strained and turbulent atmosphere of a racially divided America that was torn between boycotting Hitler’s Olympics or participating in the Third Reich’s grandest affair, the film tells the incredible but largely unknown story of 18 African American Olympians before, during and after their heroic turn at the Summer Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936.

The 16 men and 2 women stood up against discrimination with intelligence, grace and honor, setting an important precursor to the modern American Civil Rights Movement. The film is set to be released in 2016 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of their historic feats at the 1936 Olympics.

Debra RileyThis story is complicated, triumphant and unheralded. The role of these African American heroes is a vital part of history and is as relevant today as it was then. To celebrate Black History Month, the film’s producers partnered with the Southern Documentary Fund and Seed&Spark to launch a crowdfunding campaign raise the $50,000 necessary to complete production. The Southern Documentary Fund fiscally sponsors the film and contributions to the crowdfunding campaign are tax-deductible.

Writer and director Deborah Riley Draper stated,“Black history is American history. These 18 African American heroes defied racism and Nazi Aryanism and created a powerful springboard for the American blacks to rethink the notion of second-class citizenship. Their unheralded story deserves its place in the annals of history and we are honored to tell this chapter.”

1936 OlympicsThe project has completed extensive research and has shot over a dozen interviews, including Dr. Harry Edwards, Ralph Metcalfe, Jr., son of 1936 Olympian Ralph Metcalfe, Olympian Anita DeFrantz, Olympian Nelson Vails, 1936 Gold Medalist Adolph Kiefer and 100 year-old 1936 Olympian John Lysak. “I have a gold medal, but in history, it is not as important as their gold medals. For me, there is something that is so special about what they did, and who they did it in front of,“ adds Coach Joanna Hayes, 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist in the 100 meter hurdles.

Olympic Pride, American Prejudice takes a different look at the 1936 Olympics and the role 18 black athletes played in changing not only the gold medal count but the misconceptions about race on both sides of the Atlantic. Coffee Bluff Pictures is the producer, and Stuttgart-based Mouna Studios has signed on as the international co-production partner for the film.


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