FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Symbol of Solidarity, Explores How Art Can Ignite And Unite Disparate People
August 4, 2021, Philadelphia, PA – Symbol of Solidarity is the new feature-length documentary film from first time filmmaker, Philadelphia native, and MTV producer, Esteban Serrano, and writer-producer, Eric Bhanudas Blackerby. It premieres on Thursday, August 18 during a private screening in the place where it was filmed – Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. The documentary explores how a Jenkintown-based artist, Brian “bbsketch” Bowens used his artistic talents to express his hope for unity during the 2020 summer of protests. Bowens, best known for creating custom cleats for Philadelphia Eagles star, Brandon Graham, and his captivating illustrations of athletes like Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James, was asked to speak publicly at a vigil. Rather than write a speech, Bowens painted a bright, multi-colored fist surrounded by unifying messages he called, Symbol of Solidarity.
After its unveiling, Bowens’ Symbol of Solidarity was an immediate hit. It was licensed for use on a number of items, including ping pong paddles used by the NBA’s players in their Orlando bubble last summer. However, not everyone was a fan. After being commissioned to paint a mural of the Symbol of Solidarity on the side of a building, some residents became vocal opponents of Bowens’ art. They aimed to stop the mural project and called into question Bowens ability to profit from the Symbol of Solidarity that he created.
“The more that I filmed Brian [Bowens], and dug into this story, the more I realized that it was representative of the issues at play throughout the country, and I knew that I had to tell this story,” recalls the film’s director, Esteban Serrano. “It’s a universal story about the power of art to capture your attention and express complex ideas in a way that speaks to everyone from small children to grandparents,” adds Eric Blackerby, who served as a writer and producer on the documentary.
This film features interviews with Jenkintown officials like Mayor Allyson Dobbs, Chief of Police, Albert J. DiValentio and Borough Council President, Deborra Pancoe. “Brian’s art was the perfect response to the turmoil everyone experienced throughout 2020. His stunning image of solidarity and celebration of unity captured the essence of a community coming together to confront injustice, transcend tragedy, and forge forward as one. It leaves no one behind,” says Mayor Dobbs. Describing Bowens’ art, Police Chief DiValentino states, “This was a beautiful project, embraced by me and our community. It’s a symbol of peace and unity that gave hope during the most difficult times in our society.”
Furthermore, asserts Borough Council President, Pancoe, “This mural project is important to Jenkintown Borough because the expression of solidarity and action as symbolized by the multicolored fist and the words of unity in the background speak to the hopes for our community. It is important that we work together to address racism, anti-semitism, classism, sexism, and genderism - all the "isms" - and to help folks understand how each of us collectively and as individuals can affect change in the systems that are keeping people down. As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said - ‘No one is free until all of us are free.’
About Film Director, Esteban Serrano
Esteban Serrano, through his nearly two decade long career in television, is a storyteller. From his early days at MTV in 2004 producing the iconic TRL, to his present days at the same network helping to relaunch Yo! MTV Raps in countries like Asia, the United Kingdom and beyond. It’s the stories that drive him.
About Artist, Brian Bowens
Brian “bbsketch” Bowens is an illustrator and designer who has built his reputation on an authentic love for sports and a brilliant eye. He has worked with ESPN, Foot Locker, Bleacher Report and many other notable brands and athletes. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, four kids and sneakerhead collection (size 12).
About Screenwriter & Producer, Eric Bhanudas Blackerby
As a professional, Eric’s journey has taken him from content marketing and project management roles at Sony Music and tech startups, to writing, producing, and directing. His work has been performed on MTV and Nickelodeon, and has been featured in media outlets like HYPEBEAST, TIME and Entertainment Weekly.
Media Contact and Images
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