Julio Quintana knows how to take a sports movie into a series of life-affirming moments. He did it with his 2021 Netflix movie, Blue Miracle, and now follows up with The Long Game, which debuts in theaters nationwide today.

In each movie, Quintana uses sport as a metaphor for a triumph of the human spirit. Blue Miracle, for example, it was the true story of a group of kids turning to a washed-up boat captain to save their orphanage in the Dominican Republic.

Also based on a true story, The Long Game

follows five young Mexican American caddies in 1955 who created their own golf course in Del Rio, Texas. Despite outdated and inferior equipment and no professional instruction to begin with, they would go on to compete against wealthy, all-white teams and win the 1957 Texas State High School Golf Championship.

The screenplay by Quintana,  Paco Farías and Jennifer Stetson is based on Humberto G. Garcia’s book, “Mustang Miracle.’’

“The (project) was brought to me almost three years ago,’’ Quintana told me. “I was kind of reluctant because it was similar to Blue Miracle. But when I started reading about what the boys went through and accomplished, it was too good to pass up.’’

The son of Cuban immigrants, Quintana grew up in Austin, Texas playing baseball.

“I never have been able to transform my baseball swing into a golf swing.’’

Nevertheless, Quintana tells the story as a coming of age tale that goes beyond golf.

 “As I’m telling the story, I’m trying to put myself in their shoes,’’ Quintana said. “The only way to make things believable is to say, ‘What would I do in that situation?’ So, it was inevitable that I project my experiences on to their stories.’’

The Long Game, which received rave reviews at the recent South by Southwest music and film festival in Austin, stars Jay (“Magnum PI’’) Hernandez, Dennis Quaid and Cheech Marin. It was filmed on location in Del Rio, where a few of the surviving team members from San Felipe High School still live.

“They were grateful for us telling their story – and we were all grateful for the struggles they went through to open doors for guys like us,’’ Quintana said. “A big part of the story of these young men is how to become men – learning how to operate within a system that’s not necessarily fair. In this case, it’s the world of golf. But it’s also a story of anybody trying to fit in anywhere. What are the rules? How to I integrate without losing who I am?”’

The Long Game marks Quintana and Quaid’s reunion Blue Miracle. Quaid, whose previous sports movies include Any GIven Sunday, Breaking Away, and The Rookie.

“I kind of expanded his character’s role in order to get him, but Dennis is obsessed with golf. I think he would have done it anyway,’’ Quintana said. “We had four or five golf professionals on the set, but Dennis was the one running around fixing everyone’s golf swings.’’

Quaid’s production company – Bonniedale – along with Mucho Mas Media – produced The Long Game. 

Mucho Mas Media is a multimedia company that empowers and supports inclusive stories, filmmakers, and talent. Mucho Mas finds its stories and audience in the vast and colorful Latine communities in the US and abroad, bringing together our diverse but shared cultures through amazing storytelling in film and TV.

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Photo Courtesy of Mucho Mas Media