Maysles Cinema at the MDC, The CCNY Doc Forum, and Third World Newsreel Present:
Made in Harlem: #Rucker50
At City College Center for the Arts at Aaron Davis Hall
West 135th Street & Convent Avenue (129 Convent Avenue)
Robert McCullough Jr. and Darryl L. Neverson, 2016, 54 min
Malcolm X stated, “History is a people’s memory, and without a memory, man is demoted to the lower animals.” The Rucker celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2015 in and to mark the milestone directors Robert McCullough Jr. -- the son of the founder of the Rucker, Robert McCullough Sr. along with Holcombe Rucker (March 2, 1926 – March 20, 1965) -- and Darryl L. Neverson, wrote and directed the film #Rucker50 to chronicle its contributions to the game of basketball, but also to acknowledges its place in American culture. Set against a backdrop of the civil rights movement, the Rucker league became part of the movement. It influenced African-American empowerment, and Hip-Hop music and culture. During an era of urban blight and “white flight” from the inner cities, the league helped to re-establish and redefine Harlem as the epicenter of Black culture.
In 1965 the tournaments changed the game of basketball forever. As Black athletes rose to prominence and influence in all areas of sports The Rucker brought the hard fighting “in your face” street style off the Harlem streets and on to the NBA courts. Professional and street - ballers came together and brought their oft-times flamboyant one-upmanship to the courts to the delight of the crowds (a crowd that could be as enthusiastic and as critical as any Apollo amateur night audience).
Pro basketball players (from decades past), Civil Rights activists, Harlem residents, musicians, Rucker players and spectators who witnessed the games are all interviewed in #Rucker50. The film is a testament to the resilient spirit of the Americans of African descent and demonstrates the inclusive nature and inherent camaraderie of competitive sports. The tournament’s only requirement was talent; it offers opportunities to men, women, and athletes of all races, creeds or color.
Q&A with Rucker tournament founder Robert McCullough Sr., director Robert McCullough Jr., and NYC street-ball and NBA All-Star legend Kenny Anderson, and subject of upcoming documentary Mr. Chibbs.
This program is part of Made in Harlem, (March-May 2017), a non-fiction film series for, by and about Harlem, and including Harlem-made films, filmmakers, speakers and subjects. Made in Harlem is sponsored by the West Harlem Development Corporation.
Third World Newsreel is a progressive alternative media center that distributes, produces and trains, focusing on media by and about people of color. It is celebrating its 50th year of progressive media making.