The theaters below show films in their original language; click on the links for showtimes and ticket information.
Interviews with the stars, general film articles, and reports on press conferences and film festivals.
Subscribe to the free KinoCritics monthly email newsletter here.

Film Review: 12 Mighty Orphans
by Karen Pecota

"If we were carving a Mount Rushmore of football coaching, Harvey Nual "Rusty" Russell would be on it -- possibly even carved first." ~ film director-screenwriter, Ty Roberts

A filmmaking trio--producer Houston Hill, director-screenwriter Ty Roberts, and writer-actor Lane Garrison--collaborate with screenwriter Kevin Meyer to take the 2008 bestseller Twelve Mighty Orphans: The Inspiring True Story of the Mighty Mites Who Rules Texas Football by Jim Dent, a veteran sportswriter who covered the Dallas Cowboys for over a decade and revive the story of Rusty and Juanita Russell in their latest feature narrative12 Mighty Orphans.

Set in the Great Depression, during the Dust Bowl era between the 1930s-1940s, a major exodus of those living in the Plains states moved elsewhere to escape the horrific dust storms and drought that brought devastation, loss of livelihood, and many to the brink of despair.

Garrison says, "In Texas, Rusty is pretty legendary. His importance is one who shaped young minds and ambitions." Rusty and Juanita were hired by an orphanage in Fort Worth, Texas, as teachers but the two brought so much more to the lives of each child that entered the orphanage compound. It became an institution where education and nurturing went hand-in-hand. Rusty's wife, Juanita, who taught mathematics and practical life skills, was just as influential. The Russell team became the nurturing "parenting" figures the children at the orphanage needed during troubled times.

The added benefit was that Rusty had football coaching skills in which he incorporated his love for the sport to teach and train his rowdy, rambunctious and at-times irreverent orphaned teens about life while learning the tactics of American football.

Garrison recalls, "We did not want to make a football movie." Adding, "Football would be the vehicle, the tool that Rusty used, but this was about these boys and this man overcoming adversity and great obstacles." Roberts said, "I wanted the film to be more of an inward look at what drives us as teachers and artists. I view Rusty as a bit of an artist using his skills to craft a new way." Continuing, "There's selflessness in Rusty that was one of my great inspirations in wanting to share his story." Noting, "Before Rusty and Juanita arrived at the orphanage, it was almost like a labor camp. Afterward, it became a caring, warm and loving institution that changed lives in a positive way. They really inspired their kids to be driven by knowledge."


Based on a true story, an orphanage in Fort Worth, Texas, took in abandoned children of all ages when their families could no longer care for them during the Dust Bowl era in American history. Rarely, did any parent return to retrieve their children though that was the promise made when the parents came upon better times. The orphanage grew to handle over 100 residents at one time from birth to late teens. At the onset the institution was run like a work camp, by taking abandoned boys and girls and working them hard to keep the orphanage running for their room and board.

This is the story of the Mighty Mites, the famous football team comprised of teens from the orphanage under the direction of a new teacher and football coach, Rusty Russell (Luke Wilson). He was a coach who believed that his orphans could compete at the better organized high-school level; so, he drove his students to believe in themselves, supported their efforts, as well as each one's personhood.

Unique to other teachers who were hired and fired easily at the orphanage during this era, Rusty and his wife, Juanita (Vinessa Shaw) were different. They were committed to each student and would not give up on them, even if they appeared to be little/big rascals. The students would test the Russell team on many levels, but Rusty and Juanita knew their efforts to teach and train would pay off if they stayed committed and present in the lives of their students.

Rusty's determination would happen on the football field with the help of Doc Hall (Martin Sheen). Rusty devised a game strategy that turned each player’s weaknesses into unbeatable strengths to play as a unit...a team. The team concept was something his players were not used to because in real life each teen learned to fend for themselves. Rusty's spread offense strategy (without which today's football would be unthinkable) was key to his young players’ success. This style earned them the right to play in state championships; therefore, becoming a national symbol of pride and resilience at a time so many were in the pits-of-despair.