Nearly 16 months ago, the documentary film “Push: Madison vs. Madison”, chronicling Madison Park High’s run in the 2007 MIAA basketball tournament, premiered at the International Film Festival of Boston, and had the sold-out Somerville Theatre crowd on its feet and cheering.
This weekend, after some tireless campaigning, the unique fruits of the storied Roxbury program finally get the national spotlight. The film will premiere on ESPN Classic this Saturday at 1 p.m., and again on Sunday at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Directed by Roxbury native Rudy Hypolite, the film follows the Tigers through the crunch of their 2006-07 season, centered around Madison Park’s charismatic coach, Dennis Wilson (also a co-Producer) and his two future Division 1 talents Malik Smith (Florida International) and Raheem “Radio” Singleton (UMaine).
A multitude of themes are explored throughout the film, both on and off the court. Emphatically referred to by its fans as the “MP Machine”, it was one of the program’s most talented squads of recent years. But tensions also ran high, compounded by the players’ residences in rival housing projects. The Tigers went unbeaten in the regular season that winter, but eventually bowed out in the Division 1 South tournament.
“This is a dream come true for us,” Wilson said. “I’m thrilled, I’m excited for the message, and for putting Boston on the map. I’m excited, I can’t wait.
“A lot of work went into this, man. We’re excited about it. The fruits of our labor have paid off, and we thank God for that.”
“Push: Madison vs. Madison” was awarded “Best Documentary” in 2011’s Roxbury Film Festival, and was also an official selection at the Rhode Island Film Festival, Cinequest Film Festival, and the New York International Latino Film Festival.
“We’re gonna put Boston on the map," Wilson said. "Even though it’s a film about Madison Park’s high school team, we’re representing Boston. Everyone knows about the Red Sox, the Patriots, the Celtics, the Bruins, but now they’re going to see a different piece of Boston. They’re going to see a hard-working man that’s a surrogate father to these kids, and some of these kids may not have the cache of kids from New York or L.A., but they’re working hard on the mean streets of Roxbury, doing some positive things.”