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Thursday, October 16, 2014


William Gates.
Arthur Agee.
They may not be household names, but that depends on your household.
In my house and in some others, these names are a part of basketball and film history.

In the 1994 documentary, HOOP DREAMS, we see these two Chicago teenagers' sports dreams and nightmares play out over a three hour film that has stood up over the last 20 years as one of the greatest pieces of American filmmaking. The human drama that took place over the five plus years of filming is so compelling that it could not possibly have been scripted. The film documents much more than two kids who want to play professional basketball. It delves into the structure of our country in terms of race, economics and the institutions we prioritize and idolize.

I could write all day about the beauty and sadness of HOOP DREAMS. From the crushed dreams of William's older brother Curtis, to Arthur's father Bo, basically selling drugs on camera, to the triumph of Marshall High School going "down state". From Shannon, to TUSS on the sneakers, to Earl Smith, to Sheila Agee. This film is an absolute treasure and an incredible thing to experience.

The man who truly propelled this film into the American consciousness was none other than our hero, Roger Ebert. In an unprecedented move, Roger and Gene Siskel reviewed the film on their television show before the film even had a distributor. When HOOP DREAMS was not nominated for a Best Documentary Academy Award, Mr. Ebert let everyone know the snub was an absolute travesty.

Below are links to writings on HOOP DREAMS that I've complied from
They are in chronological order, from Ebert's first thoughts about the film, to a recent interview with filmmaker Steve James, who made HOOP DREAMS and the documentary about Roger Ebert, LIFE ITSELF. Read through the links to see the profound impact this documentary made on Mr. Ebert and countless others.

And oh yeah, "It's Raining, Bo!"

Original Thoughts - 2/13/1994

Jounal Entry - 10/6/1994

Original Review - 10/21/1994

On The Academy Awards Snub - 2/26/1995

10 Best Movies Of The 1990s - 2/23/2000

Entry From "The Great Movies" - 7/8/2001

Final Journal Entry - 11/5/2009

Steve James Interview - 7/2/2014

From North/South Film: The Past Ebert Archive

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