Freestyle Digital Media, the digital film distribution arm of Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group, has acquired the North American VOD rights to “Because They Believed.” It’s a new sports documentary by Steven C. Bernier that interviews athletes that broke through racial barriers, set for release on Feb. 2.
Among those interviewed and featured in the documentary are American track stars John Carlos and Tommie Smith. They famously used their triumph in the 200-meter sprint at the 1968 Olympics to take a stand against racial discrimination by raising black-gloved fists during the playing of the national anthem at their medal ceremony.
The two athletes were expelled from the remainder of the Olympics after the International Olympic Committee threatened to ban the entire U.S. track team.
Other sports legends featured in the doc include baseball star Dusty Baker, who won a World Series as a player with the Los Angeles Dodgers and again as a manager with the Houston Astros, earning the most wins of any Black manager in MLB history; Tae Yun Kim, the first woman to be named a grandmaster in taekwondo; Herbert Carnegie, one of the first Black hockey players who endured racism in the 1940s and became a Hockey Hall of Fame inductee in 2022; and Raymond Chester, who led the HBCU Morgan State football team to three undefeated seasons before becoming a Super Bowl champion with the Oakland Raiders.
“Making ‘Because They Believed’ with [co-writer and producer] Arif Khatib was an eye-opening experience,” Bernier said. “His extensive compilation of archive footage spanning decades of interviews with professional athletes is impressive. Our cast and crew were dedicated to telling their stories by bringing this movie to life, and we are excited to share this film with the world!”
Freestyle Digital Media negotiated the deal to acquire “Because They Believed” with Alex Nohe from Blood Sweat Honey.
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