By JONATHAN FEIGEN
CENTURY CITY, Calif. â€“ The date jumped from the schedule, a Saturday night off in Los Angeles, with a Friday night win giving the Rockets a send off to whatever options of the city they would choose.
Tracy McGrady went to a movie premier. He took a seat in a private screening room at famed Creative Artists Agency. Yet, this was not McGrady going Hollywood.
This night â€“ the first viewing of a documentary on his 2007 trip to the Darfur refugee camps in ChadThe documentary â€“ called “3 Points” (a reference to the goals of peace, protection and punishment) â€“ travels with McGrady from his hometown of Auburndale, Fla., to his luxurious life in Sugar Land and on to the refugee camps where he learns of the horrific atrocities suffered in the Darfur region of the Sudan.
Sometimes funny, but often gut-wrenching, the film shows McGrady grow from naÃ¯ve and privileged at the start to educated and driven as he visits with the refugees from the mass genocide in the Sudan since 2003.
“This is a project that means so much to me,” McGrady said. “One thing I promised the kids and all the people there was that I would make sure their words are heard.”
McGrady, along with his longtime friend Ira Seright, his manager and film executive producer Elissa Grabow and activists Omer Ismail and John Prendergast made the trip in August 2007.
Filmmaker Josh Rothstein and cameraman Brian Jackson documented their six days of travel and in the camps, filming as elders, women and children tell stories of the unthinkable acts they encountered while fleeing from Darfur to the camps in Djabal, Koloma and Koubigou.
“The most important thing is the message,” McGrady said. “That all we want from this film, to get the message out and get people to want to get involved.”
Talks are ongoing with several groups, including CAA, to distribute the film to cable television outlets and film festivals. In conjunction with the completion of the film, McGrady and Lakers guard Derek Fisher are recruiting NBA players for the “Darfur Dream Team Sister School Program” to raise money for schools in the refugee camps.
The film ends with McGrady telling students at his high school in Auburndale, the first of the sister schools, about his trip and all he learned. The film, however, centers on how much McGrady had to learn when he arrived and how shocked and horrified he is as the stories are told.
“I think itâ€™s real powerful to watch,” McGrady said. “I promised all the people there I would get the word out. Itâ€™s very important to me to do that. Seeing the film, itâ€™s touching. Anybody that sees the film will want to do something, will want to be involved. I donâ€™t have the answers. John knows it all. He was the right guy to have there to teach us about it all. My job is to reach people and for the film to touch people.”
The viewing ended with stunned silence before applause. But one sentence spoken later might have said more.
Seeing a break in the line to speak to Prendergast, Los Angeles Clippers star Baron Davis knew there was something he had to do.
“I got to go,” Davis said, pointing at Prendergast. “I have to talk to this guy.”