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Documentary of The First Black Player in the NHL, Willie O’Ree | Canada/
US/Western Europe

"Willie" is a story of courage, resilience, friendship and triumph across North America that was 240 years in the making.  In 1958, during America's fight to end Jim Crow, Willie O'Ree became the first black player in the National Hockey League - although he had lost his right eye two years before his debut. 

 

This documentary follows the amazing story of Willie's family from his great-grandfather's escape from slavery in 1779 to Willie's ascent to hockey's highest honor - induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame on November 12, 2018.  Willie's story transcends hockey - it is a journey in pursuit of opportunity to blaze new trails and inspire people of all races, both historic in its sweep and scope, and relevant to our current day.  

Producer Bryant McBride and Director/Producer Laurence Mathieu-Leger, and a team comprised completely of minority and women filmmakers, have crafted a poignant, powerful story.  They are supported by Executive Producers Ted Leonsis, Sheila Johnson, and Earl Stafford, as well as JP Morgan Chase, and are collaborating closely with The National Hockey League.  

 

The film also features appearances by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, NHL great Wayne Gretzky, Dean of the MIT School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences and expert on race and retrospective justice Melissa Nobles, Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds, Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly, National Women's Hockey League player and first overall pick, Kelsey Koelzer and the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honorable Justin Trudeau.  

 

The film will be finalized in early 2019.

At a time when the world needs heroes - meet "Willie".