Premiering May 14-16 at the Canadian Sport Film Festival

A Most Beautiful Thing

A Most Beautiful Thing

Row Ontario is partnering with the Canadian Sport Film Festival to bring the film A MOST BEAUTIFUL THING to the Canadian sport community.

Row Ontario is proud to be partnering with the Canadian Sport Film Festival 2021 to present the Canadian premier of the rowing film A MOST BEAUTIFUL THING. The film is an inspiring and uplifting documentary about Arshay Cooper and his teammates from Manley Career Academy High School in Chicago, who formed the first black high school rowing team in the United States. This powerful story chronicles the barriers team members broke to be able to participate in rowing and the resulting impact on their lives and legacies. This is a story that Row Ontario’s newly formed Diversity & Inclusion Committee felt would be a great way to start a discussion on social justice in sport and build fundraising momentum for a new grant program.

A portion of the ticket sales as well as sponsorships and donations will be put towards the Row Ontario IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility) Fund. Grants from the IDEA Fund will allow Row Ontario member clubs to fund programs to create a more diverse, inclusive, and accessible rowing community in Ontario. Putting action into words by supporting this premier fundraising event will have the lasting impact of giving more opportunities for young athletes.

Ticketing Options

The Row Ontario CSFF Virtual Film Festival weekend will take place from May 14-16. The event is offered through the Digital TIFF Bell Lightbox allowing for streamlined ticket purchases, a professional digital platform, and a high quality virtual Q&A produced in advance of the event. Once a ticket is purchased, the movie will be available to be viewed for 48 hours from May 14-16. There are two ticketing options to view the film, as follows:

VIP Tickets – $150 +HST and Service Fees (Available until May 12. Only orders placed on or before May 5 are guaranteed delivery of package items by May 12. All VIP tickets include access to the live Q&A regardless of purchase date).

VIP ticket holders will take part in a planned VIP experience during the viewing of A Most Beautiful Thing. They will receive catered food from CURED, a Row Ontario branded face mask, the book A Most Beautiful Thing, access to a pre-recorded Q&A with Arshay Cooper as well as participation in a live Q&A with Arshay, multi-platform journalist and sports activist Shireen Ahmed, and the first black rower on the Canadian Olympic Team, four-time World Championship medalist Kubet Weston at 7pm EST on Sunday, May 16, and two additional short films (The Boys from the Back of Beyond and Rowing the River). Quantities of VIP tickets are limited. Row Ontario official boat supplier HUDSON is sponsoring Arshay’s participation in the Canadian Sport Film Festival.

General Tickets – $15 +HST and Service Fees
General ticket holders will receive the viewing of the film,  a pre-recorded Q&A with Arshay Cooper, and two additional short films (The Boys from the Back of Beyond and Rowing the River).


  • VIP Package purchasers will receive a follow-up email regarding delivery details
    Deliveries are made through Canada Post. CSFF, Row Ontario, and Cured Catering cannot be responsible for delays incurred by Canada Post.
  • Tickets are sold through Ticketmaster. As of May 13, tickets can also be purchased through
  • All ticket purchasers will need to set up an account on Digital TIFF Bell Lightbox. These are the steps necessary to set up an account on the site. You will have access to view the film on Friday, May 14th at 10am.
  • You may access the films via via the Digital TIFF Bell Lightbox App available on the App Store for Apple users, and Google Play Store for Android users.
  • Ticket holders have 48 hours to watch the film, beginning at 10am on May 14 (and 24 hours once the film has been started).

Buy Your Tickets to View A Most Beautiful Thing!

Purchase Your Tickets Today!

Concept2 RowErg Contest

(Note: In order for tickets purchased through the TIFF Bell Lightbox platform on or after May 13 to count towards the RowErg Contest the purchase receipt along with the purchasers club affiliation must be emailed to  

Ontario rowing clubs have an opportunity to win a new Concept2 RowErg™ for their club!

The Ontario rowing club whose members/supporters who achieve the most contest points through purchasing tickets to watch the film will receive a new Concept2 RowErg for their club to enjoy. Ticket sales will be tracked through the TIFF Bell Lightbox Platform. When buying a ticket, there is a section to indicate which Ontario rowing club the ticket purchaser belongs to. Whichever club has the most contest points by the close of ticket sales will receive a fantastic new RowErg along with bragging rights among their Ontario rowing counterparts!

In order to make the contest as equitable as possible for all clubs across Ontario, we will be using contest points calculated by the below formula in order to determine the winning club:

Number of Club Members  Contest Point Formula
300+ 1 ticket = 1 contest point
101-299 1 ticket = 5 contest points
1-100 1 ticket = 10 contest points

 See Full Contest Rules

The donation of the erg for the contest was made possible thanks to a joint effort by Concept2 and Skye Health, a health and wellness clinic in London, Ont.

Ontario Rowers, support a great cause, watch an inspirational film, and try and win a new RowErg for your club by buying a ticket!

Support the Row Ontario IDEA Fund

Proceeds from ticket sales and donations will have an immediate and significant impact. The funds raised through this event will go towards Row Ontario’s IDEA Fund.

The Row Ontario IDEA Fund will be used to fund grants that will be awarded to community rowing club programs (through application) that support improving diversity, inclusion, equity and accessibility of the sport of rowing in Ontario. Proposals can include, but are not limited to, supporting a new community outreach program, sponsoring under privileged participants, or rowing education projects.

The Row Ontario IDEA Fund will allow Ontario member clubs the ability to expand the reach of our sport to communities and parts of the Ontario population otherwise not served at the moment.

For those wishing to make additional donations to support the Row Ontario IDEA Fund, please visit the below link:

Note: Be sure to select ‘Row Ontario’ as the Organizations Name from the drop-down menu at the below link.

Donations for the Row Ontario IDEA Fund

Donate Today!

About the Film

Nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award; nominated for an NAACP Image Award; and nominated for Best Documentary by the Foreign Press Academy, A MOST BEAUTIFUL THING is narrated by the Academy-Award/Grammy-winning artist, Common; executive-produced by NBA Stars Grant Hill and Dwyane Wade along with Grammy-award winning producer 9th Wonder; and directed by award-winning filmmaker (and Olympic rower) Mary Mazzio. The film chronicles the first black high school rowing team in the United States (made up of young men, many of whom were in rival gangs from the West Side of Chicago), all coming together to row in the same boat. An amazing story, based on the memoir of team captain, Arshay Cooper.

A MOST BEAUTIFUL THING explores not only the safety these young men found on the water (where, as the captain reflected, “we were in a place where we could not hear the sound of sirens”), but the trauma of violence and cyclical poverty, examining how these young men were able to support each other in reimagining a different future for themselves, and how rowing and the water provided the backdrop for that opportunity. These young men came together, after 20 years out of the boat, to race in the summer of 2019, not only to celebrate the team’s founding, but the fact that they are still alive. This is their story.

A movie we could really use right now.

Hollywood Reporter

An absolute must watch!


In rowing, you move forward by looking in the opposite direction. I learned that it’s ok to look back, as long as you keep pushing forward.

Arshay Cooper

Arshay Cooper’s story captures the power of sport to reveal inequity, empower people to overcome barriers, and effect positive change in the community

Russell Field, CSFF Executive Director

A Most Beautiful Thing – Trailer

About Arshay Cooper

ARSHAY COOPER is a Rower, Benjamin Franklin award-winning author, the protagonist of the critical acclaim film “A Most Beautiful Thing,” A Golden Oar recipient for his contributions to the sport of rowing, motivational speaker, and activist, particularly around and issues of accessibility for low-income families. Arshay works with the George Pocock Foundation and A Most Beautiful Thing Inclusion Fund to bring rowing to under-resourced communities. Arshay grew up on the West Side of Chicago, raised by a single mom in a neighborhood surrounded by gangs and drugs. But a chance encounter changed Arshay’s life. In 1997, he joined (and later became captain of) the first All-Black high school rowing team at Manley High School, an experience that changed Arshay’s life. Arshay has founded and help started several rowing programs for low-income youth across the country, anywhere a puddle of water exists, so that other young people can experience the profound change that can happen on the water. Arshay is mostly known for diversifying the sport of rowing and his activism work in Chicago.

Thank You HUDSON

HUDSON, a rowing industry world leader and Row Ontario’s official boat supplier, is sponsoring Arshay Cooper’s involvement with the Canadian Sport Film Festival and the premiere of the film. HUDSON was been involved with the film since last year, and in September of 2020 they partnered with the George Pocock Rowing Foundation’s A Most Beautiful Thing Fund, which aims to promote accessibility and inclusion at rowing programs across the United States. Row Ontario is forever grateful for HUDSON’s support throughout this initiative.

Partners and Sponsors

Images used are property of the film A Most Beautiful Thing and Arshay Cooper.