Local filmmaker George W. Tillman Jr. will host a one-time screening of his documentary, “The Lucky 11,” at the Guest House at Graceland on June 29, beginning at 7 p.m.
“The Lucky 11” pays tribute to an elite group of Fisk University football players. It weaves together the true stories of Memphis athletes who have “overcome obstacles, unselfishly given to their community and changed the game of football because of their love of the sport.”
The films unique collection of stories includes:
• Memphian John “J.J.” Jones, the fourth African American to play quarterback in the NFL;
• Jefferson Street Joe Gilliam from Tennessee State University, one of the first black quarterbacks in the NFL;
• All Lucky 11 players from Southside High School that played at Fisk University.
According to Tillman, “Through the deeply personal tales of John J.J. Jones, educators, coaches and community fans, this documentary explores the power of heroic stories and encourages viewers to find their own unique path to heroism.”
Proceeds from the screening benefit the Jefferson Street Joe Gilliam Football Camp, which teaches children ages 12 to 16 tips on the gridiron, provides funding for Fisk University scholarship winner Teona Smith and financial support for elementary schools in Jamestown, Ghana in West Africa.
The red-carpet event begins at 6:30 p.m., with special performances by the Orange Mound Senior Tap Dancers. A soundtrack performance by Teety and Skitpro is set for 7 p.m. The screening follows at 7:15 p.m. Pictures with the surviving “Lucky 11” players begin at 6:30 p.m.
“We have to tell our history,” said Tillman. “This is my part as a filmmaker to tell a great story about a group that came from Memphis.”
Tickets can be purchased at the door for $25 or in advance on eventbrite: https://bit.ly/2RAG7A2.
(View the trailer at: https://youtu.be/7I1RshKg22c.)