A Most Beautiful Thing

The Putney School and the Putney Rowing Club present a private showing of:


A Most Beautiful Thing

By Arshay Cooper

Now a documentary narrated by Common, produced by Grant Hill, Dwyane Wade, and 9th Wonder, from filmmaker Mary Mazzio.

A Most Beautiful Thing

The moving true story of a group of young men growing up on Chicago's West side who form the first all-black high school rowing team in the nation, and in doing so not only transform a sport, but their lives.

Growing up on Chicago’s Westside in the 90’s, Arshay Cooper knows the harder side of life. The street corners are full of gangs, the hallways of his apartment complex are haunted by drug addicts he calls “zombies” with strung out arms, clutching at him as he passes by. His mother is a recovering addict, and his three siblings all sleep in a one-room apartment, a small infantry against the war zone on the street below.

Arshay keeps to himself, preferring to write poetry about the girl he has a crush on, and spends his school days in the home-ec kitchen dreaming of becoming a chef. And then one day as he’s walking out of school he notices a boat in the school lunchroom, and a poster that reads “Join the Crew Team”.

Having no idea what the sport of crew is, Arshay decides to take a chance. This decision to join is one that will forever change his life and those of his fellow teammates. As Arshay and his teammates begin to come together to learn how to row–many never having been in water before–the sport takes them from the streets of Chicago, to the hallowed halls of the Ivy League. But Arshay and his teammates face adversity at every turn, from racism, gang violence, and a sport that has never seen anyone like them before.

A Most Beautiful Thing is the inspiring true story about the most unlikely band of brothers that form a family, and forever change a sport and their lives for the better. It delivers an important and timely message of social justice and inclusion.

Mary Mitchell of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote about the urgency of the film in the context of the times we are now in. Other press includes LA Times, The Saturday Evening Post, RogerEbert.com, Sports Illustrated, PEOPLE Magazine, CBS Chicago, The Chronicle, Deadspin, Town&Country, The Wall Street Journal, Idobi, NPR’s Weekend Edition and NPR’s Front Row Network (including an interview you can listen to here), The Washington Post, and Chicago Now, calling it “one of the most important documentaries of this decade.”


Buy Tickets

Tickets are $20 and will buy both the opportunity to stream this film during the September 25-26-27 weekend and to participate in an online panel and Q & A discussion on Wednesday, September 30 at 7:00 pm hosted by the main character Arshay Cooper. 

50% of the box office and film screening from A MOST BEAUTIFUL will be donated to support the work of Arshay Cooper and rowing inclusion efforts through the Pocock Foundation, trauma research and the NAACP legal defense fund.


Many thanks to Antidote Books in Putney for sourcing Arshay’s book. Address: 120 Main St, Putney, VT 05346. Phone: (802) 387-2260, Email: hello@antidotebooks.com

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