Several years ago, actor Aidan Quinn was playing golf with a friend and they were talking about an inspirational story that appeared on ESPN.
"I told my friend that the story sounded amazing. It was just some random conversation," Quinn said. "Months later, this script arrived. It was that story. I said, 'Wow'."
"The 5th Quarter", which opens Friday in a nationwide release, tells the true story of the Abbate family, who lost one son -- Luke Abbate -- in a tragic car accident and saw as the other son -- Jon Abatte -- honor the memory with the Wake Forest football team in 2006. In fact, a tradition began to evolve during the Wake Forest games. In paying homage to Luke, Jon would signal his family sitting in the stands (Section 5) by holding up his hand with all five fingers outstretched. He did this at the end of the third quarter. Gradually, the rest of his team started to do the same. Within a couple of games, players from both teams, the fans in the stands, and those watching the games on television, would begin the final quarter by raising their hands with all five fingers outstretched in honor of Luke's memory.
"It's a family movie and it's a sports movie that looks at how this heroic season at Wake Forest was largely inspired by the son weairng the jersey of his brother," Quinn said. "It inspired the family first and foremost. And then the community and team. And then the nation."
Quinn plays Steve Abbate and Andie MacDowell plays his wife Maryanne. Ryan Merriman plays Jon, while Stefan Guy plays the younger brother Luke.
"I felt a huge responsibility to be true to the story because the family was so involved in the making of the movie," said Quinn, who is known for roles in "Benny and Joon" and "Legends of the Fall". "And it became easier because it's a great story, the script was well written and the cast was great to work with."
The independent movie has won a few awards, including Best Feature prizes at the Long Island International Film Expo and the Louisville International Film Festival, and has jumped from showing at 82 screen initially to 122 screens before its release.
"I'm not saying the completion of this movie is closure for the family, because when it comes to losing a child, there is never closure," Quinn said. "But this movie will help the family in their journey to move on."