Blackfilm.com correspondent Rougét Carter chats with Steven Hoffner and Rayvon Hall about THE CANNONS, a documentary film that follows the lives of Coach Neal Henderson and his team of young African American hockey players in the longest-serving minority hockey program in North America, the Fort Dupont Hockey Cannons in Washington DC. This is the first feature, directorial debut by Hoffner, who also shot and edited the film.
World Premiere Screening — Sunday, November 14, 1:30 PM @ IFC Center. The film is available online from November 15 – 28. Tickets for in-person and online can be found here — https://www.docnyc.net/film/the-cannons/.
The Cannons is an up-close look at the players, parents, and coaches of this enduring team, whose inspired alumni and coaching staff include a Navy fighter pilot and a Congressional chief of staff. It keys on two players in their final year, best friends Robert and Rayvon. Robert intends to apply for a spot as a police cadet. Rayvon, meanwhile, clings to the dream of playing college hockey (with the disappointing discovery that junior college hockey programs are on the decline).
Based in one of America’s toughest neighborhoods, Southeast, Washington DC., the Cannons’ young players are largely from financially-challenged African-American families, playing the most expensive game in North American sports.
“I am a white Canadian, and being part of the Cannons’ journey requires respect, due diligence, and an alignment with Black voices,” says director Hoffner. “Having worked at the National Hockey League for over a decade in video production, I was ripe with a fascination for the Cannons program. Underprivileged Black Americans playing what is traditionally known as a rich white man’s sport, certainly struck a chord with my curiosity.
“What we learned after two-plus years of shooting; 70 days of principal photography and 1.5 years of editing, was that this was much more than a story. Coach Neal and the families in this film became truly part of our collective. We saw tragedy and success, ups and downs.
“All in all, we made new families throughout this experience and relationships to last a lifetime.”
The Cannons is directed and produced by Steven Hoffner, co-directed and produced by AJ Messier. Robert Ford and Robert Walker-Branchaud are Executive Producers. Produced by Kwame Damon-Mason. Associate Produced by Kevin Weekes.
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