Spike Lee, Budweiser honor Jackie Robinson with short film ‘Impact’

The Oscar-winning Brooklynite directed “Impact,” which released this season to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Robinson’s birth.

When Oscar winner Spike Lee and Budweiser came together to create a short film honoring Jackie Robinson, it made sense to trust one of Brooklyn’s most iconic artists.

“He admires Jackie Robinson, he loves baseball, and we know that he is a super talented storyteller and director,” said Ricardo Marques, Budweiser Vice President of Marketing, at a March 25 screening of the film in Manhattan. 

The film, titled "Impact," celebrates the iconic Robinson in the year that he would have turned 100. He died in 1972 at age 53.

“I’m honored to work with Sharon Robinson and Budweiser,” Spike Lee said in a statement, referring to Robinson’s daughter and the vice chairman of the Jackie Robinson Foundation. “All of us working in unison to pay homage to a great American who literally changed the game with the impact he made. Long Live Jackie Robinson!”

With Major League Baseball celebrating its annual Jackie Robinson Day on Monday — home teams not playing Monday will hold the celebrations Tuesday — Marques shared why it was important for the company to pay homage to Robinson, who broke baseball’s color barrier as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947 at Ebbets Field.

“Budweiser has [had] a long-standing relationship with baseball, and we recognized that this Opening Day was just not another opening day,” Marques said. “We want to make sure that this day doesn’t go by without us passing on the opportunity to honor the legendary Jackie Robinson and his legacy.”

The film shows footage and images of Robinson and includes narration from daughter Sharon. "Impact" also features 11 current change makers, including Sarinya Srisakul, the first woman firefighter of Asian descent in the FDNY, and P.J. Collins, who founded 10,000 PB&Js to help feed New York City’s homeless population. Marques noted that “Spike Lee was the person handpicking everyone.”

Nzingha Prescod, a two-time U.S. Olympian in fencing who became the first African-American woman to ever win an individual medal at the senior world championships in 2015, was proud to be a part of Brooklyn-native Lee’s short film.

“To be visible to [Lee] and have him recognize me as a modern representative of breaking barriers in sports is a huge honor,” Prescod said.

Marques said he hopes those who watch the film will renew their appreciation for Robinson.

“Remind the country of the values that Jackie Robinson stood for with great courage and resilience, not only to inspire a new generation of change makers today that go well beyond baseball, but also of course to honor what he stood for,” he said. “We think that’s a powerful message.”

Derrel Jazz Johnson