Tennis star Arthur Ashe will be the subject of a new documentary from Emmy Award-winner Rex Miller and Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Sam Pollard entitled Citizen Ashe. The film will center around the late athlete’s legacy, his outlook on the world, and his humanitarian efforts.
Ashe, who would have been celebrating his 78th birthday this year had he not passed away from AIDS-related complications in 1993, is not only celebrated as a legendary tennis player, but also hailed for the points he scored off the court through his activism in the interest of civil rights, global human rights, and deep empathy for those whose lives were affected by HIV.
Miller and Pollard will use a combination of archival newsreel and family footage to bring Ashe’s story to life. The documentary will take viewers through the sportsman’s childhood and personal growth, beginning as a young man deeply affected by the death of his mother and influenced by his early tennis mentor. Because of the ease in which he played tennis on a technical level, he was able to compete at the top tier levels in the sport despite being a non-white player in a sport saturated with white competitors.
As the film moves from his childhood to adulthood, viewers will see interviews with Ashe’s widow, Jeanne Moutousammy-Ashe, his brother, Johnnie Ashe, as well as other tennis legends which include Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Donald Dell, and Lenny Simpson, and fellow activist, Professor Harry Edwards. Those interviewed will take audiences through the cultural importance of Ashe’s history-making Grand Slam wins, and how, despite the racism he was put through on a daily basis, the tennis great was able to hold onto a stoic composure in public.
The documentary will debut its theatrical release brought to us by Magnolia Pictures on December 3 in New York City and December 10 in Los Angeles. Ashe moved through his life using his celebrity to make a difference not only for himself, but for the entire world around him. In the trailer, an interviewee says of Ashe, “I just think about all he did and with such purpose and dedication.” Another interviewee says, “He never forgot about his race and when I say his race, I’m talking about the human race.”
Check out the trailer below to get a better idea of what to expect from this heartfelt film about one man shaping the history of the world.