Africa: a giant continent of 54 nations and home to more than a billion people. What do you think of when you think of Africa? My bet is: not baseball.
So when I first heard about a film that links those two subjects, I thought it was a long shot for Spiritual Cinema Circle. But only until I watched the first minute or so, after which I was totally hooked—and you will be too.
When Gay Hendricks and I founded Spiritual Cinema Circle in 2004, we wanted to bring a very special kind of film to our members: spiritual movies of inspiration and motivation—movies with thought-provoking, uplifting stories that make you feel good about being part of humanity. And Opposite Field, our June feature film, is exactly that.
It’s the inspiring true story of the first African team ever to play in the Little League World Series. So on one level, Opposite Field is about baseball, and has all of the expected baseball tropes: base hits, home runs, stolen bases; the devoted coach and the ragtag players; the last-minute saves and missed pitches. Baseball fans will love it.
But the film—like the game of baseball itself—goes much deeper and reveals fundamental truths about human character, resilience, and persistence in the face of tremendous odds. The boys on the team at the center of this story are from the poorest areas of Uganda, one of the poorest countries in the world. They can’t truly escape their circumstances, but, as they play the game and scramble toward victory, they can try to transcend them.
These young players will break your heart and lift it up at the same time, even if you don’t know the difference between a foul ball and a bunt.
We recently asked the film’s young director, Jay Shapiro, what inspired him to make the film. He told us:
“The inspiration for Opposite Field really began when I first traveled to Africa as a teenager. Nothing can really prepare you for the frustration and complexities of Africa but upon return to America I immediately became dissatisfied with the level of discourse about Africa. The West's relationship with Africa is obviously a complicated one. I was searching for an entry point that would open a channel of dialogue—and then I found baseball. A businessman from Staten Island was building a baseball complex in Uganda. When I saw it for myself, I knew this was the conduit I had been waiting for.”
Shapiro spent five years making this film, and it shows. It’s rare to see such an intimate portrait of people whose lives are so far from our own. He’s done an amazing job with the incredibly difficult task of providing a clear narrative of complex and emotional events that you don’t have to be a baseball fan to enjoy.
Opposite Field is the June selection of Spiritual Cinema Circle, the monthly DVD club that delivers inspiring films to your door. If you join now, you’ll get Opposite Field along with three short films and more: a FREE membership in Gaiam TV, with thousands of hours of streaming video you can access 24/7. And your first DVD is FREE: just pay $4.95 shipping (US and Canada; $7.95 elsewhere). There’s no obligation. Cancel anytime.
So I invite you to join me and the Spiritual Cinema Circle community. You will love your first film, Opposite Field, and all of the extras that come with it.
To sign up today, click here!