Posted April 2020

WETHEPEOPLE continues to expand its original content development with Director Hamoody Jaafar, a veteran of raw, docu-style storytelling known for his unique ability to elevate the voiceless.

In December of 2019, Director Hamoody Jaafar and crew ventured to a local high school basketball game with the hopes of highlighting a highly sought-after player on the rise. In a series of serendipitous events, they instead found themselves entranced by the opposing team, shifting their sites and cameras on the maroon jerseys worn by the Panthers. Helmed from River Rouge, a city just South of downtown Detroit and a gateway to the Downriver community, the Panthers were victorious that night and warmly opened their locker room doors. Executive Producer Jesse Ford and Hamoody began to dig deeper, discovering a profound history of the team and some amazing people.

With roots tied to the largest Ford Motor Company plant that got turned into a war facility in World War II, River Rouge’s industrial community experienced a multitude of malpractices in oil processing and steel manufacturing, polluting the river and causing a low-income ripple effect within its surroundings. Despite the town’s trials, Hamoody quickly learned that the River Rouge High School team has transcended all odds with 14 state championships led primarily by the late Coach Lofton Greene. Many regard Greene a legend and hero of River Rouge, who led with integrated philosophies and provided spaces for kids to find synergy on the basketball courts, establishing a basketball legacy with 12 titles under his name.

WTP has been documenting the team’s journey as the season unfolded with a flies on the wall approach, from capturing players in their early morning rise to practices all the way to the season games, while realizing that it’s so much deeper than just basketball. Keep an eye out for updates on the progress of the documentary and for some behind-the-scenes of the production.