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“Gentle Giant: The Andre Rodgers Story” Hits a Grand Slam
By Clarence Rolle, Bahamas Film Commission / MOT
Oct 9, 2015 - 3:41:24 PM

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Gina Rodgers-Sealy is pictured with baseball legend Buck O'Neil before his death. Mr. O'Neil was one of many players and coaches paying tribute to Andre Rodgers in the film, Gentle Giant.

“Gentle Giant: The Andre Rodgers Story,” a biographical documentary about the first Bahamian to play major league baseball, is hitting home runs on the film festival circuit.

Most recently, the film was selected as one of 12 films to screen at the prestigious National Baseball Hall of Fame Film Festival in Cooperstown, NY. Film director, producer and writer Gina Sealy, the daughter of the legendary baseball player, said “The irony is that Daddy would have been more impressed with the accomplishments of me and my team, rather than the impact of his personal story. He was such a humble person.”

Sealy added, “While the film was created primarily to encourage the youth of the Bahamas, I am absolutely amazed that people all over the world are embracing it.

“It was definitely an emotional moment for me when I entered the Hall of Fame and the first thing I found was the John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Exhibit and bronze statue there to meet me. It was almost as if I was being greeted personally by him.”

Buck O’Neil was the first black coach in major league baseball and he was also Andre Rodgers’ coach when he played with the Chicago Cubs. Sealy explained, “O’Neil was also the first person that I interviewed for this documentary back in 2006 when he was 94-years of age. His interview was riveting and revealing, and three months later, he was gone.”

Hall of Famers Ernie “Mr. Cub” Banks and Orlando “Cha Cha” Cepeda, both close friends of Andre, were also featured in the Gentle Giant documentary. Banks is often referred to as the greatest Cub in baseball history and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in January 2015. Cepeda enjoyed a 16-year major league baseball career, played in three worlds series and was National League MVP in 1967.

So far, “Gentle Giant” has been named as an official selection at 11 film festivals and has won the San Francisco Film Award for Best Documentary. The film is also the winner of two 2015 Haven Awards from the Bahamas International Film Festival for Best Director and Best Film.

"Gentle Giant" is also screening at the Treasure Coast International Film Festival this weekend and it is a 2015 official selection at Interrobang Film Festival; San Francisco Global Movie Festival; Central Florida Film Festival; Chagrin Documentary Film Festival; Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival; Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival and the Festival De Caribe, Santiago, Cuba.

Sealy says that the winning formula for the success of this project has to be attributed directly to her team which includes Kevin Taylor, who was co-producer, videographer and editor; videographers Kent Minnis and George Sealy and script editor Patty Roker. “Gentle Giant” is the second documentary produced by this award-winning team, the first one being “Trailblazer: The Mychal Thompson Story”.

Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe is the mastermind behind the creation of these two documentaries. His vision is to create an archive of these historic documentaries where Bahamian children can learn about their history and become inspired by it.

The team is currently in the early stages of their third project: a look at the fascinating life of entertainment legend Peanuts Taylor. "Gentle Giant: The Andre Rodgers Story" will also be screened at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas on December 2 at 7pm, which is the baseball legend’s birthday.

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