Kismet and Community Bring 'Playing Through' To Life

Todays News

Pictured: Andia Winslow (left) and Jules Rae in a scene from Playing Through. Photo by Rich Schineller.

Filmmakers and their supporters gathered at Ringling College of Art & Design this week to celebrate the completion of another feature-length film shot in Sarasota and produced in partnership with the community, furthering a longtime mission to highlight the region as a potential hotspot for the film industry.

Entitled Playing Through, the film tells a semi-fictionalized account of Ann Gregory, the amateur golfer who made history in 1956 as the first African-American woman to compete in a national USGA championship. Written by Curtis Jordan, the project began not only upon his discovery of Gregory’s story, but the surprising fact that his own mother had actually played a round of golf against Gregory herself. Though Jordan’s mother was reticent to talk about the experience, he was fascinated, and that golf match became a key narrative element in a script Jordan says he wrote at least 15 times, never thinking it would be made, never thinking it was good enough.

All that changed when he met Andia Winslow. An actor who had been golfing since age 10, Winslow not only knew about Gregory, she understood the importance of her game and her accomplishments. “Black people in this country were excluded from leisure in a way that’s remarkable,” Winslow says, tracing a line from her own artistic and athletic path to the doors opened by pioneers before her. “I’m a product of Ann Gregory,” she says. And she found out that her parents knew Gregory’s kids.

“Kismet beyond kismet,” Winslow says, and the chance to talk with the Gregory family proved “informative but emotional.”

Still, there was one glaring problem in Jordan’s mind: his script. “I’m a 70-year-old white man putting words in these women’s mouths,” he says, and the dialogue was never satisfactory. Enter Winslow and her co-star Jules Rae, who both arrived in Sarasota a month early to workshop the dialogue and bring the script over the finish line. “Their input made the script,” Jordan says.

Armed with a “micro-budget” and support from the Sarasota community, including Laurel Oaks Country Club, Ringling College and Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, shooting was ready to begin.

Ultimately, Jordan credits the widespread community support as a key reason the film was able to be made at all. “[Sarasota] has taken a chance on us,” he says. “I hope that the community feels they have a level of ownership in this.”

Playing Through is currently seeking distribution.

Pictured: Andia Winslow (left) and Jules Rae in a scene from Playing Through. Photo by Rich Schineller.

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