The Anderson Monarchs documentary premiere | Department of Media Arts
February 14, 2013

The Anderson Monarchs documentary premiere

Eugene Martin.When RTVF Assistant Professor Eugene Martin decided to create a documentary about an inner-city girls' soccer club that had played his daughter's select team, he expected to spend six months shooting footage.

Those six months turned into three years as Martin met the players for the Anderson Monarchs Girls Soccer Club in Philadelphia, their parents, and their coaches. Martin saw how the team excelled despite not receiving any financial support from the city and practicing on a mostly dirt field shared with a football and a baseball team. In 2010-11, the Monarchs were ranked among the Top 10 in the world for teams with players less than 12 years old.

Martin's 76-minute film, The Anderson Monarchs, will have its Texas debut at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 17, during Denton's Thin Line Film Fest at the Campus Theatre near the historic downtown Denton Square. Martin will attend and answer questions after the screening.

With an MFA from Temple University, Martin has been in UNT's RTVF department for four years teaching directing, filmmaking, screenwriting, and MFA documentary thesis. He has directed eight feature-length films -- four of them narrative and four documentaries. He is also a member of the Directors Guild of America.

Martin said he accumulated 500 hours of footage which meant he had to decide which stories to highlight in The Anderson Monarchs. He said it soon seemed very natural to follow two of the youngest girls, who were 10 and 11 when he started shooting, and have them tell their stories in their own words. There's no voiceover in the film -- all the words are from the players, their parents, and their coaches. And even at young ages, the girls are conscious about what it means to be minority players in a mostly-white, suburban sport.

Click to watch 'The Anderson Monarchs' trailer.The main characters are Kahlaa Cannady and Jlon Flippens. Martin said Cannady is now 13 and goes to a magnet public school in Philadelphia for gifted children. He said she joined the Monarchs team at age 6 and, in addition to playing soccer, she goes to a writing program every day after school and writes poetry and short stories. Martin included some of her poetry in the film.

Flippens is now 14 and Martin said she is truly a prodigy who won a scholarship to a private high school in Philadelphia and, after he finished filming, started playing on an Elite national club team. But he said she also enjoys being a kid and is in drama club and choir with her mother enjoying taking her to practices and keeping her grounded.

Martin said his favorite scene to shoot was the last one, in October 2011, when the team visited the White House. Members of the U.S. Women's National Team were there, and the Monarchs played soccer with them and with first lady Michelle Obama.

Martin said his film is a lot about social justice since the Monarchs want to be treated like any other team and have equal access to facilities and education for the players. He noted some teams decide to not play them after learning that their field is in the inner city.

He said the film promotes the idea of making soccer available to all, and finding good players and bringing resources to them, instead of having them leave the city and play somewhere else. He showed the film to board members of the U.S. Soccer Foundation, which has identified urban America as a primary area to develop the U.S. Women's National Team programs. He said the Monarchs are a model for other potential soccer clubs not just in the U.S., but around the globe.

(Source: Nancy Kolsti, UNT News Promotions)