Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
USA, 1994. KTCA Minneapolis, Kartemquin Films. Screenplay by Steve James, Frederick Marx. Cinematography by Peter Gilbert. Produced by Peter Gilbert, Steve James, Frederick Marx. Music by Ben Sidran. Film Editing by William Haugse, Steve James, Frederick Marx.
This incredible documentary is everything you’ve heard it is and more. It follows the lives of two inner city Chicago kids who want more than anything to play basketball for the NBA, but what it also does, and here’s where the film is elevated to masterpiece status, is give a wholly in-depth look at two all-American families, their hopes and dreams, their trials and tribulations, and their strength to last even when everything seems to be against them. One of the subjects of the film comes from a strong family background and does really well in the private school he’s been sponsored to go to, but as time passes he seems to be losing his ability to stay on top of everything. The other young man immediately loses his place at the private school and suffers from an unstable life at home, but with the passage of time it seems that he might just come out of it with something to show for himself after all. In three short hours, director Steve James puts you on a whirlwind emotional ride that gets you wrapped up in these people’s lives and adamantly involved in the good times and the bad. One of the most stunning films of the nineties, and one of the most impressive documentaries you’ll ever have the chance to see.
The Criterion Collection: #289
Academy Award Nomination: Best Film Editing