May 11, 2012

'Crooked Arrows' Baltimore Premiere Draws a Crowd

by Matt Forman | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

'Crooked Arrows' star Brandon Routh and those involved in the production of lacrosse's first mainstream feature film walked the red carpet Thursday night at the movie's Baltimore-area premiere at Goucher College.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

TOWSON, Md. -- The parking lot at Goucher College looked like the pregame scene at a lacrosse game. Energetic fans of all ages dressed in their school colors or favorite team's t-shirt, jersey or pinnie.

Only these folks weren't here for a game. They were here for a lacrosse movie: "Crooked Arrows," the sport's first mainstream feature film and the Native American community's first family motion picture, which on Thursday night made its second of four premiere releases at Goucher's Kraushaar Auditorium, hosted by US Lacrosse.

The film will be released in select theaters May 18 and nationwide June 1, but locations with special significance in the movie's making were given an early screening.

The scene inside the Baltimore-area premiere more closely resembled an awards show, with celebrities convening just outside the theater's entrance. The festivities included the consumption of fine finger foods and conversation about the film's impact on the game they love. More than 900 lacrosse fans were about to flood through the front doors and pack the venue.

A red-carpet rundown — or more appropriately, a trip down the green turf pathway — started shortly thereafter, with Sheehan Stanwick Burch introducing the VIPs.

One by one, the movie-makers responsible for Crooked Arrows made their way down the lane: Director Steve Rash, co-producers J. Todd Harris and Mitchell Peck, film stars Gil Birmingham ("Twilight"), Chelsea Ricketts (guest roles "Grey's Anatomy" "CSI: Miami") and Brandon Routh ("Superman Returns"). Paul Rabil, along with fellow Major League Lacrosse stars Stephen Berger, Kyle Hartzell, Justin Smith and Jesse Schwartzmann, were in attendance. And one by one, they shared their excitement for the movie's much-awaited release.

"It's all great buzz," Birmingham said. "We're just really excited about the first real lacrosse movie coming out."

As Routh answered rapid-fire questions from the assembled media, a group of middle-school aged girls approached him.

"Are you Superman?" asked one, wearing a Broadneck (Md.) lacrosse shirt.

"Yes, my name is Brandon," Routh responded, offering his hand for a shake.

"Can I give you a hug?" she asked.

Routh obliged, while the girl's friends took pictures on their smart phones.

"OMG, I just hugged Superman," the girl turned and said to her friends. Later adding, "Well, I can cross that one off my bucket list."

There were plenty of heartwarming stories on this feel-good evening, even before the main event: lacrosse on the big screen, a moment many have waited for years to see.

The worldwide premiere for Crooked Arrows was held Wednesday evening in Syracuse, but as Harris said in a welcoming speech to the sell-out crowd: "You can't have a lacrosse movie and not play Baltimore."

"In classic Hollywood fashion, this movie is 99.9 percent done," Harris said at end of his speech. "There are a couple things that we're furiously fine-tuning. They are special effects. So it's going to look perfect when it comes out May 18. Tonight, it might not be perfect, but it's going to be a great movie, and I hope you enjoy it."

In the film, Routh plays Joe Logan, a mixed-blood Native American trying to prove himself to his father, a traditionalist Tribal Chairman, by rediscovering his spirit by coaching a rag-tag reservation lacrosse team of the Sunaquot, the fictional seventh tribe of the Haudenosaunee. "I have chosen the manner of your spirit quest: You will return to The Creator's game," says Routh's fictional father, Logan, played by Birmingham. "We call it the Medicine Game for a reason. Let it heal you. Restore pride to our people and their game." Following the tried-and-true misfits versus the establishment storyline, the movie chronicles the hero team's transformation under Routh. They are renamed the Crooked Arrows and make an unlikely, underdog run to the New York State prep school championship game.

"It exceeded expectations. I couldn't be more pleased. I hope that word spreads."

-- Johns Hopkins assistant men's coach Jamison Koesterer, who plays Coventry coach Emmitt Davis in 'Crooked Arrows.'

There were lots of laughs — Cree Cathers, a Mohawk from the Onondaga Nation who plays "Chewy" in the film, had several one-liners — and plenty of "woah" moments. There were behind-the-back goals and step-down shots, collisions and pick-and-rolls, but the lacrosse is authentic. The sport's routes were depicted by respectfully representing Native American culture, heritage and ancestry.

Lacrosse pros Rabil, Brodie Merrill and Zack Greer make appearances in the movie, along with NCAA coaches John Desko and Dom Starsia, among others.

"Without a doubt it exceeded expectations. I couldn't be more pleased," said Jamison Koesterer, a two-time national champion midfielder at Johns Hopkins and current Blue Jays assistant coach whose first involvement in the film came as a lacrosse-specific consultant. Eventually, after spending days on the set coaching, Koesterer was cast in the movie as Emmitt Davis, the coach of Coventry, the rival team of the Crooked Arrows. Koesterer was raised in Cazenovia, N.Y., not far from a Native American reservation. His father, Mark Koesterer, is the CEO of Sports Studio, which designs and manufactures apparel, garments and wardrobe for movies — including the fancy red and black "Crooked Arrows" uniforms.

"It was awesome," Koesterer said. "It's funny. You have a vision or idea of what everything is going to look like. But once you see it, it was awesome. All the hard work that was put into making this film great shows. The authenticity and integrity were sound. That might have been my favorite part. The lacrosse looked really good too. I'm just excited. I hope that word spreads. I hope people that love lacrosse come see it. I hope people that don't know anything about the game come see it and leave saying 'I'm going to Wikipedia lacrosse.'"

Then, as one fan announced leaving the theater Thursday, everyone could say, "We are all Crooked Arrows."


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