Winner of a 2021 Gracie Award for writing, nominated by the NAACP for an Image Award (writing), nominated by the International Press Academy (for Best Documentary), and nominated by the Critics’ Choice Association (for Best Sports Documentary), and named one of the best films of 2020 by Esquire, A MOST BEAUTIFUL THING is narrated by the Academy Award/Grammy-winning artist, Common; executive produced by NBA Stars Grant Hill and Dwyane Wade along with Grammy Award-winning producer 9th Wonder; and directed by award-winning filmmaker (and Olympic rower) Mary Mazzio. The film chronicles the first African American high school rowing team in this country (made up of young men, many of whom were in rival gangs from the West Side of Chicago), all coming together to row in the same boat. An amazing story. Based on the memoir by Arshay Cooper. A scripted series adapted from A MOST BEAUTIFUL THING is now in development at Amazon Studios with Mazzio and Hill as executive producers.

A MOST BEAUTIFUL THING explores not only the safety these young men found on the water (where, as the captain reflected, “we were in a place where we could not hear the sound of sirens”), but the trauma of violence and cyclical poverty, examining how these young men were able to support each other in reimagining a different future for themselves, and how rowing and the water provided the backdrop for that opportunity. These young men came together, after 20 years out of the boat, to race this past summer, not only to celebrate the team’s founding, but the fact that they are still alive.  This is their story.


Run Time: 95 minutes

UNRATED. We recommend viewing for ages 16 and above.  The film contains approximately 3-5 minutes of interviews relating to rape as a result of intergenerational trauma, as well as some mild profanity.

NOTE for HISTORY BUFFS: Although this crew (from Manley High School) was the first African-American high school rowing team, the first African-American team was actually a college team which originated in the 1960s and 1970s at Howard University, coached by Potomac Boat Club’s Stu Law.  (Other outreach and community efforts to expand the sport of rowing to young people developed in the early 1990s (Mandela Rowing out of Boston, being among the earlier programs), but much more needs to be done.  In fact, one of Arshay Cooper’s goals is to see a dramatic increase in athletes of color named to the 2028 US Olympic Team.

Play Trailer

A Most Beautiful Thing Film Poster.  Courtesy 50 Eggs Films