Coinciding with Black History Month, BIG & Digital announced a new documentary starring the highest-ranking and second Black International Chess Grandmaster Pontus Carlsson, “Building Minds with Chess,” in Feb 2021. Produced by Ken Mask, Taurus Bailey, Greg Ward and Matt Dillon, the film is available in all digital formats for theaters and online streaming by groups and individuals.
The giant screen cinema industry relies on school groups and educational partnerships for a large part of its audience. COVID-19 curtailed the ability to bring students into theaters, prompting distributors to find ways to maintain their standing in education and bring the content to the students. One example is Tina Ratterman’s Cinema Learning Challenge (CLC) program of “virtual field trips.”
Based in Las Vegas, Ratterman is president of BIG & Digital LLC, a boutique distributor of specialty films such as “In Saturn’s Rings,” “Watermelon Magic,” and “Space Next,” usually exhibited in museums and planetariums. Ratterman created CLC in 2017 initially to serve students in Clark County, Nevada (fifth-largest school district in the US) with in-theater screenings. In 2020, CLC pivoted to Virtual Field Trip Experiences that combine screenings with hands-on learning activities led by experts and educators. By virtue of being online, the program can now reach a global market.
“Building Minds with Chess” explores how chess helps players improve in math, critical thinking, memory, problem solving and more. It also touches on Carlsson’s organization, Business Meets Chess & Kids, a social project created to foster relationships between youth and local business leaders in New Orleans, with the goal to build stronger minds in children and create mentorships through the game of chess.
As a Cinema Learning Challenge Virtual Field Trip, “Building Minds with Chess” can be bundled with a number of relevant workshops and activities including a live online workshop with Grandmaster Carlsson himself. He teaches students how to play chess, and they even get to play against him. Grandmaster Carlsson also hosts Virtual Field Trips for college students and businesses, sharing with them how chess thinking can revitalize a business and its potential as a tool for social change.
At the age of one, Pontus Carlsson lost his entire family to Escobar’s reign of terror in Columbia. He was taken in by a Swedish family. His adopted father taught him to play chess at four years old. Carlsson went on to represent Sweden in international chess competitions and ultimately earned the title of International Grandmaster.
“’Building Minds with Chess’ will bring value to student, business and community programs – school activities, chess clubs, critical thinking workshops, coaching, and more,” says Ratterman.
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