SYNOPSIS

76 TRT | USA | 2021

From Award-Winning Director Justin Jarrett and Executive Producer “JB” James Brown (CBS/Showtime), comes The Carnival: 125 Years of the Penn Relays.  For more than a century, the Penn Relays have defied the odds on their way to becoming one of the longest running sporting events in history. From breaking world records to breaking down barriers, they have helped revolutionize the sport of track and field while playing host to everyone from World Champions to Olympic icons and creating a legacy that will last forever.

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BACKGROUND

The Penn Relays are unlike any other sporting event in the world today. With a deeply rooted legacy dating back more than 125 years, it is one of the longest running sporting events in history. A multi-day festival disguised as a track meet that attracts both athletes and fans from more than 36 countries, the Relays are a unique collision of culture, tradition, top-notch athletic competition and generations of people uniting for one purpose, year after year.

With The Carnival, we set out to discover how this event has lasted the test of time to create a legacy that will outlive us all. We sat down with track and field legends like Carl Lewis, Renaldo Nehemiah and Dr. Greg Bell, along with current Olympians like Justin Gaitlin and many others to re-live some of the Relay’s greatest moments in its storied history while diving deeper into the cultural impact the Relays has had on the sport beyond the track. We examine how the early pioneers at the University of Pennsylvania broke down racial barriers and roadblocks that allowed the Penn Relays to become one of the lone bright spots during America’s darkest hours and how that decision defined the relays for generations to come.

WATCH CLIP

In a short clip from The Carnival, track & field legend, Greg Bell talks about his experience with race and the Penn Relays.

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DIRECTOR'S NOTES

by Justin Jarrett

It has been nothing short of an honor to be entrusted with the story of the Penn Relays vaunted 125 year history. Living in and working out of Philadelphia, my team and I understand that the Relays are far more than just a track meet. In fact, calling it that would be an incredible disservice to what the Relays are and have been for more than a century.

We spent more than a year peeling back layers of a legacy that only seemed to get richer the deeper we went. From taking a stand against racial segregation to revolutionizing the sport of track and field to the endless tales of athletic feats – the Penn Relays had no shortage of iconic moments both on and off the track.

As a filmmaker, I was immediately drawn to the idea of traveling back in time and examining a point in history which is rarely looked at in sports because at that time the very idea of many major sports was so new. Basketball was invented just a few years earlier and baseball and football were in their early years – all of which were segregated. People might not realize this, but in 1895, the U.S. was only thirty short years from the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves. This is why my team and I felt early on in the process that it was important to lay out the landscape of American culture at that time for the viewer, in order to fully understand just how unique and special it was for an event like the Penn Relays to emerge from that era with equality for all races and ethnicities as its cornerstone.

To me, this was always going to be the heart of The Carnival from day one and I knew this was an area we really wanted to focus on.

BEHIND THE SCENES

We had up to six camera crews running at any given time during the 2019 Penn Relays to capture interviews, B-Roll, events and more.


CREDITS

The University of Pennsylvania
JTWO Films
Written + Directed by: Justin Jarrett
Executive Producers:
Travis Capacete
James Brown
Justin Jarrett
Kevin Bonner
Producers:
Dave Johnson
Frank Dolson
Tony Sorrentino
Associate Producer:
Conor Hare
Cinematographers:
Maria Vattimo
Adam Hribar
Chris Harley
Andres Torres
Jay Miller
Sebastian Nieves
Assistant Camera:
Alex Siwik
Nathan Vitale
Diamond Holland
Adam Henderson
Easton Angle
Omar Alqahtani
Location Sound:
Jelani Thomas
Shapoor Pourshariati
Photographer:
Adam Hribar
Edited by:
Maria Cantu
Online Editor:
Ian Schobel
Assistant Editor:
Steven Layton
Omar Alqahtani
Colorist:
Jason Druss, CSI
Sound Engineer:
Steven Layton
Graphic Design:
Logan McGee
Monica Grevera
Matthew Paul
Visual Effects:
Matthew Collamore