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The Line

A film by Tom Ball

A film about Rowing & Art with William P. Reimann

The Line comes to life at the intersection of sports and art. It is a story of discipline, intuition, heightened awareness and the deep-rooted desire to go beyond one’s limitations.

This is an Art Film about Rowing and a Rowing Film about Art.

William P. Reimann is the hero of our story. He is a championship rower and taught Design & Drawing at Harvard University for almost 40 years. What can an Art Professor teach us about athletic performance? What can a Championship Rower teach us about the appreciation of art? Will’s artistic philosophy depends upon intuition, creative exploration, rigor and discipline. As a drawing teacher, Will encouraged his students to appreciate the purity and importance of “the line.” All of these attributes also apply to his athletic skills in his approach to rowing where “the line” also comes in to play.

This is the path he uses to row the course for the famous Head of the Charles Regatta. He describes both the objective landmarks of this line and the more subtle intuitive milestones. The film oscillates between art and rowing. Demonstrations of rowing finesse and technique are balanced with experiential classroom exercises centered on key principals of art experience. An important core concept in both investigations is “how to see.”

The film covers practice and philosophy in both disciplines and demonstrates, through Will’s explanation and example, how one informs the other. One master rower explained, “Going out on the water with Will is to grab the best experience you can have out there.”

Many of Will’s art students, who have gone on to successful unrelated careers, say they think about what they learned in his class every day. His rowing students find their own sorts of bliss on the water almost every time they go out. The legacy of Will’s life is that these experiences can be learned. Maybe not at the intensity of a sports or artistic genius, but in significant ways none the less. As one sports psychologist said, “[these experiences] express human values such as humility, harmony, creativity, spirituality, and a vital sense of self that enriches everyday life.” This film distills these rare experiences and makes them more readily available to the rest of us.



Associated Members

We are grateful for the generous support of our sponsors:

Massachusetts Cultural Council
Lowel Cultural Council
Cabot Family Charitable Trust
Liberty Mutual Foundation
City of Boston Arts and Culture