Twin Filmmakers: Killer Bees Heads to Hamptons Film Festival

Scene from "Killer Bees"
Scene from “Killer Bees,” Photo: Courtesy HIFF

Years ago, I was friends with John Weitz, a New York City designer of considerable note, and Oscar-nominated actress Susan Kohner, who had a summer home on Lumber Lane in Bridgehampton. I was also friends with Richard Cummings, an academic and attorney and an intellectual who authored books from his home in Bridgehampton, married to his historian and author wife, Mary.

As it turned out, both of these couples had two sons who went into the film business. John and Susan were very proud when Paul and Chris Weitz had a big hit with American Pie and followed that up with the film About a Boy. They are a great success. The sons of Richard and Mary are Orson and Ben. They produced If I Didn’t Care and Blood in the Water and Pacific Standard Time, making their parents proud.

Last week, it was announced the Hamptons International Film Festival has accepted their most recent effort, a documentary film called Killer Bees. It is about the legendary basketball coach Carl Johnson, who has steered the Bridgehampton High School basketball team, known as the Killer Bees, in its quest for state championships. Since the mid-1970s, the Killer Bees have won nine state championships. Coach Johnson played on three of those teams when going to high school himself, and he coached another four teams to championships

Most New Yorkers who summer out here have no idea how diverse the Bridgehampton community is. There is an African-American community, there are white and Latino citizens, there are rich people, professional people, blue-collar workers and farmers. The film is about gentrification, education, economic inequality, and a team that would not be denied, largely to the credit of Carl Johnson, who recently retired.

Most of the film was made two years ago—it covers one season—and it would have been nice if the Bees won the State again that year. They got as far as the County Championships. Then got beat. Well, in any case, you can thoroughly enjoy this story about a perennial underdog whose spirit, drive and dedication pulls them through to victory in a pattern unprecedented in this state.

I’m pretty sure the film includes footage of when the town sends police cars and fire engines out in the middle of the night on the occasions when the Bees win the State to escort them as they approach Bridgehampton from upstate, where the championships are held.

Personally, I can’t wait to see this movie.

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