That Roger Ebert selected this three-hour documentary as the best film of the 1990s is just the first of many remarkable things about Hoop Dreams. Steve James’s insightful and compassionate film follows two teenagers who hope to escape their inner-city Chicago neighborhoods by parlaying their basketball skills into NBA careers for five years. Arthur Agee and William Gates both receive scholarships to St. Joseph’s, a suburban Catholic high school with one of the best basketball programs in the state. When Agee leaves for financial reasons to attend Marshall Metro, his neighborhood high school, the film counterpoints their stories as they try to lead their teams to the state finals.
But Hoop Dreams is about much more than two young men pursuing their American dream. Peter Gilbert’s camera and Fred Marx's empathetic editing embed us deeply into the lives of the Gates and Agee families, and we share their triumphs and tragedies. Ultimately, Hoop Dreams is a testimony to the loving support of these families and a tribute to the resilient strength of two mothers—Sheila Agee and Emma Gates—who refuse to let family setbacks damage their sons’ chances for a successful, more fulfilling life.
Hoop Dreams won the documentary Audience Award at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival and made more top-10 lists than any other film that year. The newly restored, high-definition digital master we are screening is the result of a collaborative project by Sundance Institute, the UCLA Film & Television Archive, the Academy Film Archive branch of AMPAS, and Kartemquin Films. - B.B.
About the Director
Steve James is one of America’s most acclaimed documentary filmmakers. His films include Hoop Dreams, called one of the greatest documentaries of all time by many critics. Other credits include Stevie, The New Americans, At the Death House Door, and The Interrupters. Usually following his subjects in an intimate, observational style over many years, his longitudinal studies illuminate wider social issues by focusing on personal stories. His latest film is Life Itself about the great film critic Roger Ebert, which is screening at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
Cast and Credits
Director: Steve James
Producers: Peter Gilbert, Steve James, Fred Marx
Executive Producers: Catherine Allan, Gordon Quinn
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