Watch Trailer for Fascinating New Documentary About Black Men and Chess - ‘Sideline’
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Watch Trailer for Fascinating New Documentary About Black Men and Chess - ‘Sideline’

SidelineThere’s a

long, firmly established tradition of black men (and women too) playing chess.

Just go to any park on a summer day in any city in this country, and you’ll find black people of all ages and classes deeply engrossed in playing

chess games.

And that’s

not to mention the countless black chess clubs all over the country, as well as the

growing ranks of black chess players and grandmasters who are seemingly getting

younger every year.

But when was

the last time you’ve seen  a film about black chess players? If the media had their way, you would think

they don’t exist, and that they’re an anomaly; that chess is only a game for white

people. (And come to think of it, has there been any black chess player profiled on a black TV network like BET?)

The truth,

of course, is quite different from what the media present (or doesn’t present), and the

new upcoming documentary "Sideline," which will 

make its premiere at the Black Harvest Film Festival in Chicago this

August, aims to correct those misconceptions, as well as explore the original

African origins of chess created by the Moors who brought it to Europe.

The film

also reveals the little known, and fascinating history of black grandmasters

in America, starting back in the 19th century.

Directed by filmmaker Kirby Ashley, who is himself an avid chess player, and who appears in the film, "Sideline" had been in the planning stages for

several years, but then an event took place that changed Ashley and compelled

him to push forward with the film.

“When the

Trayvon Martin verdict came down, I was distraught. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t

sleep, I couldn’t believe it. I felt compelled to do something, but I didn’t

know what to do," Ashley says. "I’m not exactly a political activist. Marches, demonstrations

and petitions ain’t exactly my thing. The only thing I knew for sure is that I

didn’t want to do anything destructive."

He adds that: “After

brooding over it for 2 months, I got the idea of making a documentary about the history of black chess players and dedicating it to Trayvon Martin. It was my

hope to show a different side of the African American male, a more cerebral

side. I wanted to depict us as sentient beings with a lot to contribute. I

wanted America to see us the way we see ourselves. That’s why I made this movie."

After its premiere

screening this summer at Black Harvest, Ashley hopes to continue screening the

film on the film festival circuit both here and overseas.

Here’s the

trailer

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