Orlando City's "Making History" documentary premiered at tonight's kickoff of the Orlando Film Festival this evening, with a screening attended by players, coaches, owners, staff, fans and film enthusiasts at the Cobb Plaza Cinema Café in downtown Orlando.
The 47-minute film, produced by Orlando City's Decio Lopes, chronicles the club's rise from an idea in the mind of Phil Rawlins in Austin, TX, to a reality, selling out the Citrus Bowl for an MLS debut in 2015. I'm not going to pretend to be a film critic, but the documentary, told mainly in a series of interviews with OCSC executives, Head Coach Adrian Heath, owners Phil Rawlins and Flavio Augusto da Silva, and Kaká, ticked all the buttons of a great sports documentary.
The early struggles are discussed, including how the original club -- the Austin Aztex -- were forced to find new training grounds after only two practices because they were tearing up the school's football field. Lopes wrings a range of emotions out of his subjects, including the self-deprecating humor of Rawlins, the overwhelming warmth and commitment of his wife, Kay (head of the Orlando City Foundation), and the passion of da Silva.
"It's been an amazing journey and seeing it all up there on the screen, the journey all the way from Austin to this amazing city," Kay Rawlins said after the screening.
And, of course, there's the heroic final moment on the field, with Kaká, the team's captain, delivering the first goal in club history to salvage a point in a sold-out Citrus Bowl on opening day 2015. The story is well known to City fans, but Lopes did a nice job of bringing it to life on the big screen. It's sure to make fans get emotional over old USL favorites. The premiere crowd laughed at all the right spots and broke into raucous applause as the credits rolled.
Following the screening, the club held a media and fan Q&A session outside the theater. That's where Rawlins let it be known that if you missed tonight's showings, you'll still get your chance to see it.
"We are planning on making a DVD copy of the film to sell for people who couldn't come tonight," he said.
"(The film) makes you realize how far we've come, in football terms, in a short period of time," Heath said. "How many people we have to thank, who have helped us along the way. Not only the players, but people who have put money into this club to make it to what it is today. It makes me realize how very very privileged and happy and very proud to be the head coach of this football club"
Lopes is a long-time producer in Brazil, who brought his talents to Orlando, joining the club's new business ventures group. With "Making History," he showed that the club is adept at finding talent beyond just on the playing field.
"I did not schedule the interviews," Lopes said after the premiere. "I just showed up at their offices. What I really wanted from them was the emotion, their feelings and I think we got it."