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Sports Movie of the Week — ‘Hoop Dreams’ [VIDEO]

Kartemquin Films

The NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament begins this week with millions of college basketball fans cheering on hundreds of college basketball players in what has become a national spectacle. Arguably, all of the hoopla surrounding the tournament begins to take shape in high schools, as the most coveted prep players in America compete to determine which of them are good enough to play at the next levels of the sport.

Our Sports Movie of the Week, ‘Hoop Dreams,’ is a documentary that looks into the culture in which many of today’s future college (and professional) basketball players develop. Much more stark and sobering than fictionalized cinematic creations could ever be, this documentary profiles an entirely different type of ‘madness.’

In the 1994 film, director Steve James follows talented players Arthur Agee and William Gates, two inner-city Chicago residents who harbor dreams of becoming basketball heroes. The documentary traces the path of the boys from the beginning of their high school years through the recruitment process for St. Joseph High School in nearby Westchester, Ill. No dramatization is needed for the real-life trials that both Agee and Gates endure as they chase their dreams toward college basketball.

Five Reasons to Watch ‘Hoop Dreams’

1. The film won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival.

2. Film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert discovered the blatant unfairness of the Academy Awards’ nominating process as a result of the snubbing of this movie in the Oscar nominations. Partly due to the discovery of this oversight, the process by which documentaries are nominated was changed.

3. The film is on the Best 1,000 Movies Ever list of The New York Times.

4. Unlike some of today’s reality shows, there were no stunts or staged drama. The filmmakers had to pay to have the electricity turned back on in the Agee home to continue filming.

5. Brief appearances by NBA Hall of Fame member Isiah Thomas, ESPN analyst Dick Vitale and director and high-profile NBA fan Spike Lee.

Click the play button to watch the trailer for the film below:

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