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Tony Kornheiser narrated a documentary about D.C.’s champion broomball team

 April 5, 2016 

“I wanted to touch base briefly about my new film titled, ‘The Nomadic Who?’ that follows the DC broomball team and their journey to a national championship,” local filmmaker Kasey Kirby wrote in a recent e-mail. “The film is narrated by ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser and takes a comic look at a city that is plagued by a national championship drought.”

There’s a lot going on there — D.C. won a national championship in broomball? D.C. has a broomball team? There’s a sport called broomball? But the detail that stood out the most is probably that my good friend Tony Kornheiser was narrating a documentary about a sport I had never heard of.

I wasn’t the only one who did a double-take over that detail. One of the Nomadic Horde players — Hordians? — was recently telling some friends about the new film, which premieres Tuesday night at 7:30 Landmark’s E Street Cinema (buy tickets here), when this happened: “Wait, the Kornheiser thing was a joke, right?” someone finally asked. No, it’s actually not.

“The irony is it’s not going to be an ESPN ’30 for 30,’ because broomball lacks the audience for that, obviously,” Kirby told me this week. “There’s no Michael Jordan or huge name attached to it. But the fact that an ESPN guy wanted to do it was sort of a home run.”

Broomball, since you’re wondering, is “a winter sport played in ice arenas and community parks throughout the country,” according to USA Broomball. “It is a game very similar to hockey in its formation and rules, but also incorporates some soccer strategies.”

The film, which was largely filmed in 2012 and 2013, follows the Nomadic Horde as they travel to the USA Broomball National Championships, where they turned American sports on their gizzards by claiming a title for D.C. This changed Kirby’s expected story arc, which wound up placing the heroic Horde in Washington’s recent context of sporting failures. Which, of course, ignores the Kastles. Poor Kastles. Always, always, the Kastles.

Kornheiser had the obvious D.C. connection, but Kirby also thought he had a naturally sarcastic tone that would match the film’s deadpan bent, in addition to a level of name recognition that, say, Luke LaViolet might not convey. No offense to Luke, who I’m sure is a terrific broomball player.

So anyhow, Kirby attempted to get in touch with Kornheiser, to no avail. He then reached out to Gary Braun, one of Kornheiser’s longtime pals, who called back 15 minutes later and asked Kirby to send along whatever he had. Kirby sent his trailer; Braun said he loved it and would show Kornheiser. The ESPN personality liked the trailer enough that the next order of business was figuring out timing. (Yes, there was compensation.)

I should note that this is a story driven by narrative and the voices of its main characters; the film is 70 minutes long, but Kornheiser’s script was only about three pages. Still, when you slap Kornheiser’s name on the promotional images of your film, you get a call back from The Washington Post.

“He’s kind of just keeping the story going down the right path, but his tone and style was a great fit for the film,” Kirby said. “It was funny, when we first started talking about it before the studio recording, he was like, ‘Tell me about this broomball.’ … He was genuinely interested in the backstory of the players on the team and the sport in general.”

“The Nomadic Who” will be live on iTunes on April 12, and on Amazon and Google Play later this month. Meanwhile, the Horde is ranked No. 5 in USA Broomball’s latest top 20, with the national championships pending this weekend.

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