Inspirational County Music week underway in Nashville - WKRN News 2

Inspirational County Music week underway in Nashville

Posted: Updated: Oct 22, 2013 11:48 AM CDT

Inspirational Country Music (ICM) week is underway at the Inn at Opryland and Two Rivers Fellowship Church.

The week of festivities include an exhibit hall and daily concerts, capped with the 19th Annual ICM Family, Faith, and Country Awards on Thursday, October 24, celebrating the accomplishments of the industry's stars.

This year, artists are sharing the spotlight with an independent film.

"It's called 'Spirit of Love: The Mike Glenn Story,'" said Director Darla Rae.

The full-length feature film is based on the real-life Mike Glenn Basketball Camp for Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Decatur, Georgia. The camp was founded 34 years ago by former NBA Star Mike "Stinger" Glenn.

"I decided that I would like to establish a basketball camp for deaf kids, because there was never one for them," Glenn told Nashville's News 2 using spoken language and American Sign Language (ASL).

He continued, "And so when I was with the New York Knicks, I started America's first basketball camp for deaf kids."

Glenn is not deaf, but his father was a basketball coach at the Georgia School for the Deaf.

"I used to hang out with my dad and with all his players and they taught me basketball, sign language, and just adopted me into the deaf culture," Glenn said.

The film about Glenn's camp focuses on a time when the hearing-impaired weren't the only ones being isolated.

The movie's trailer shows a white protester telling a black coach, "Ain't going to be a game today coach."  The scene then quickly cuts to a young athlete asking if the protest is about his hearing-impairment. The coach replies, "No, because of the color of my skin."

Most of the Spirit of Love cast is deaf or hard of hearing and first-time actors.

"I got to see what it is like to make a movie behind the scenes and inside the scenes," said Actress Maddie Burkholder, who relies on an implant to hear.

The part wasn't the only movie-magic for Burkholder. As a product placement, she got to try on Neptune, a new device that allows users to hear underwater, unlike a typical implant that is not waterproof.

"That was the first time I ever heard somebody laugh in the water and know what was going on, not having to figure out who said what. It was really awesome," she said.

Burkholder's one-of-a-kind experience is not unlike a camp experience.

Glenn's work with the hearing impaired has garnered him accolades with the NBA, but Rae wasn't easily sold when first approached about the film.

"A couple of Mike Glenn's coaches brought me the story idea, and I actually told them no three times. I told them, 'Go away,'" she laughed.

Rae was apprehensive about doing another sports, or disability-related movie, like she had done in the past. Like most directors, she wanted to expand her repertoire, but her mind and heart were changed by her hearing impaired nephew.

"He was playing basketball, championship game. They were making the introductions, and he couldn't hear his name being announced," she said.

"I asked him, 'Tell me how come basketball is important to you,'" she added. "He said, 'It's the first time I've ever felt accepted.' I thought, 'You know what? That's exactly how all those kids feel, so I'm doing this story.'"

Production was not without its challenges. More than 20 ASL interpreters volunteered their time to help communicate with the kid actors.

Rae also enlisted the help of Laura Dodd, an ICM singer-songwriter with whom Rae has collaborated in the past, to write an emotional song to carry the mood of the film. Dodd was inspired by Glenn's life story.

"I wanted to make sure I included something of his that is very personal and very important to him," Dodd said.

She recited the lyrics, "Late afternoon, on an old basketball court, the Spirit of Love was born in a young man's heart."

After a mere 14 days of filming on a meager $45,000 budget, the movie was wrapped on location in Colorado last August.  It will premiere with closed captioning Monday, October 21, at 1 p.m. in the chapel of Two Rivers Fellowship Church.

Efforts are being made to get the film on the big screen of theaters or the small screen of televisions to be viewed across the country.

Rae believes the film can make a difference, as it already has in her life.

"It was just a phenomenal experience, and because of this film, all my films will be captioned. All of them," she said.

"Spirit of Love" can be purchased through the movie's Web site.

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