Leaving a Legacy is a feature length documentary by first-time filmmaker Brenda Yelvington, an accountant by education, with a love for theater, music and young people. It is a story about band students at Northside High School in Fort Smith, Arkansas, one of the most diverse high schools in the United States, and their Band Directors, a dedicated group of educators trying to teach more than music.
The film starts with summer band practice in 100 degree heat, extends through marching at football games through individual competitions bristling with tension and the one chance to succeed … or fail, and finally to graduation in the spring. The story unfolds in a style that is both fast-moving and emotionally charged.
The 239 member band includes Johnny, whose journey has included navigating his way into and out of a gang; Ingrid, the “old soul” who carries the weight of the world on her shoulders; twins Christian and Christopher, who made the choice to pursue academics and musical talent as their ticket to college, despite their football bodies and athletic talent; and Kameron, the affluent girl who purposely chose to attend the high school in the tough part of town in her search for acceptance and friends.
The lead Band Director, Gordon Manley, is a larger than life natural leader whose folksy charm permeates the entire film. When he narrowly survives a health crisis, Assistant Band Director Aaron Durham and the team are forced to step up, as they all strive to teach the whole band, not just the most talented musicians, about life, even as they instruct them in the beauty and art of music.
Leaving a Legacy will leave a lasting imprint on every person that sees it.