Gravitas Ventures will distribute Director Jeffrey Bell’s documentary Sons of Ben across all North American digital and TVOD platforms on July 22nd, coinciding with the start of the 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star week.
Produced by Mike Dieffenbach, Sons of Ben is a “a candid, surprising and crowd-pleasing David vs. Goliath tale about how a rag tag but dedicated small group of Philly area soccer fans managed to land Philadelphia a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise by creating a supporters group before the team ever existed.”
Dubbed the Sons Of Ben (named after Philadelphia’s favorite son Ben Franklin), the group was founded in 2007 with the goal of convincing MLS to place an expansion franchise in the country’s 4th largest media market. The group had a modest goal: recruit 100 members in their first year. Not only did they reach 1,500 members in less time than that, but they captured the attention of local and national media and fans from around the league (not always favorably) and even the MLS itself.
“It was the spirit of the Sons of Ben that helped persuade the league to bring this franchise to Philadelphia,” former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said in a statement.
The story of how this rough-around-the-edges group of superfans managed to achieve their goal in a scant 13 months is one of the most unbelievable off-the-field stories in sports history. Battling not against an obvious “bad guy” like a corporate titan or existing sports team, the Sons of Ben had to overcome a global economic meltdown, a media establishment with a knee-jerk anti-soccer mindset, and even basic common sense—to achieve a first in sports.
“It was the Philadelphia sports fans’ mindset that got this done and first attracted us to the project,” said Delaware Valley native director Bell, adding, “and we’re so happy to be getting this release from Gravitas. Worldwide, soccer is the biggest sport there is, and we’re looking forward to bringing Sons of Ben to audiences around the country and around the world.”
Not only did the Sons of Ben spearhead the movement to bring an MLS franchise to Philly, but they also became a major philanthropic force for good, raising over $50,000 for various hunger, homeless and youth soccer charities in Chester, PA and the rest of the Delaware Valley.
Sons of Ben was invited to festivals in Berlin, Tokyo, Barcelona, Rio de Janeiro, and Bilbao before it was even completed, and won the Gran Prix at the Tokyo International Football Film Festival. Digital platforms include Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Xbox in the US and Canada. Cable platforms include Dish, Cox, Charter, DirecTV, Verizon, Suddenlink, Mediacom, Insight, Wow, RCN, Eastlink TV, Rogers, and Shaw. Bell and Dieffenbach also announced that they will be re-launching the film on DVD, which had previously only been available on a very limited basis.