The PBS film Stay Close highlights race and adversity as it explores the success of Keeth Smart being a black man in the sport of fencing.
What We Know:
- Keeth Smart, an African-American male, became the first American to reach No. 1 in the world in saber fencing and later won a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics.
- The 19-minute-documentary shows the inspiring story of Smart dominating his chosen field in the face of adversity.
- Using a combination of black and white animation, raw family footage, and interviews, Stay Close shines a light on Smart’s journey from a small West Indies community in Brooklyn to a sport black people rarely know about, let alone competing and succeeding in.
- “We didn’t know why we wanted to do the film until we saw Keeth’s family footage,” Luther Clement, co-director and former fencer, said. “It was then we knew that everything went through the parents, and we were guided by that principle.”
- Smart’s mother immigrated from Jamaica. Her and his father were determined to send their children to college. When his father came across an article about the Peter Westbrook Foundation, named after the first African American fencer to win an Olympic medal in the 1984 Games, he insisted his children take the sport up. The foundation just so happened to be based in Manhattan and it aimed to teach inner-city kids the sport of fencing.
- The documentary premiered at the Sundance Festival and received awesome reviews. It has been short-listed for Oscar consideration in the best documentary short subject category. The nominees will be announced January 13.
Stay Close debuts Monday night on the PBS Series POV Sports, but can be viewed online here.