Excitement Builds for Tunnel

Film Festival sources tell us enthusiasm is snowballing around Thursday’s screening of Through The Tunnel.

From the start of the festival, special attention was being showered on this Manatee County-based documentary, which followed the integration of Lincoln High School football players into the Manatee High School team during the desegregation process in 1969. Locals who are old enough may remember the resulting powerhouse team which overcame the challenges of the troubling time.

The film is being screened at the Sarasota Opera House, a rare honor shared this year only with Opening Night film Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times. But since the start of the festival, the screening has become a major, anticipated event.

A red carpet will be held Thursday at 5:30pm, leading into a 6pm reception before the 7pm screening of the film. A number of filmmakers  and subjects of the documentary will be on hand for the event, including Henry Lawrence, a team member who would go to the NFL and win three Super Bowls, and Coach Eddie Shannon, the head coach for the integrated team back in 1969. Judges Charlie Williams and Durand Adams, the executive producers of the film, will also be there, as will director Charles Clapsaddle and film subject Moody Johnson.

Henry Lawrence, two-time NFL Pro Bowler, via NFL.com

Other special guests at the event will include: Esq. of Syprett Mashas 2010 Scholarship winner Jessie Butler, Sarasota Bar president Scott Westheimer, Sarasota County Commissioner Jon Thaxton, and of course event chairs Charlie Ann Syprett and Jennie Famiglio and SFF President Mark Famiglio.

A special panel will also be held at the event featuring Lawrence, Gulfshore Media president and former Manatee High School student body president Dan Denton and former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Dennis Archer, the first black president of the American Bar Association.

The event will benefit the Sarasota Bar’s Diversity Committee, which is handing out four $5,000 scholarships to minority law students at the reception.

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