Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Medora (Documentary Film, 2013)..Davy Rothbart/Documentaries

Here's what I posted on Mike Portnoy's forum a little bit ago:

Tonight there were a bunch of 1-time, special screenings at Landmark theaters (and others?) across the US of this new Documentary about a small rural town in Southern Indiana and the kids on it's struggling basketball team (struggling on and off the court). 
Very compelling film. I would say it's almost like a cross between Hoop Dreams and Hoosiers, but with more emphasis on the town and how much the High School basketball team means to them and how the kids on the team persevere through adversity. They are one of those cases of a team that has an extensive losing streak, but still hold hope they will end it eventually. A team that while disadvantaged compared to their competition, it doesn't seem to matter to the kids on the team nor the people of Medora who support them, regardless of their lack of winning or their own downtrodden circumstances, in many cases.  
One of the best films I've seen this year certainly, and documentaries of any kind. Davy Rothbart was a co-director/produced of this movie, which given the fact I loved the movie Easier With Practice that he co-wrote the screenplay to (and was based on an article he wrote of his real-life experience), I am not surprised how good this film came out. And he (and the co-director Andrew Cohn) are definitely 2 filmmakers I want to keep up with in the future. 

There's more to add here of course, even if I feel I'm up against the clock as I always seem to be.

For one, I can relate to the basketball players and the team in some ways (and I'm sure many others can as well, which is one reason this film is so compelling I found).

-I played on a High School Basketball team from a HS with an enrollment of frequently less than the teams my school played against. I.e. my HS (Grades 9-12) I think had maybe 150 students when I was there. And while many of the schools we played against weren't huge in enrollment either, they usually were larger than us, and frankly, many emphasized athletics more. However, one reason I attended the HS I did, was enrollment and class size, and thus I was given the ability to play some varsity sports, whereas at others schools I may not have been good enough, etc.

The kids on the team, you do want to root for and almost are given the sense they become people you know. I just read an interview with Davy and Andrew HERE that they really emphasize that from their experience spending a year or more in Medora with the kids on the team, from the HS and the people from the town.

I do think this documentary does show a lot of what a lot of small towns, downtrodden or not, are like, not only in America, but around the world  as well (although not like how towns in the Philippines are right now, or Oklahoma, New Jersey etc in terms of physical devastation). They seem to be isolated and very community-based. And for better or for worse, they do have a close-knit connection that is not often felt in larger cities.

You want to see the kids at least win 1 game, and it will lift a large chip off their shoulders.

It almost seems metaphorical for some people's struggles in life, in that you go through your every day life, trying to attain even a small goal, and it seems to take forever, almost to the point you wonder if it will ever happen. But when it does, it means all the more to you, for multiple reasons. But maybe 1st and foremost, it will give you something to draw upon whenever you face other challenges.

But then again, had I been there, I may have told the kids, it's only a game. Try and enjoy as much about it as you can, and the winning will take care of itself.

Although had I been their coach, based on what the film shows on the court, I might have used some alternative strategy ala slowing the game down like Princeton, Wisconsin, etc. Perhaps it wouldn't end up being as entertaining, but it would likely cut down on their turnovers and keep them in games. However, protecting the ball against pressure and a full court press didn't seem to be as emphasized as it could have been. That's something that the teams I played on would practice frequently. That and applying our own pressure, which also was something the documentary didn't really show if the Medora team did much if any at all.

But as I posted on mp.com, I would like to see what both of Davy Rothbart and Andrew Cohn do next, which based on that article I posted above, it's a little odd how they are from Ann Arbor, MI. Mayer Hawthorne is from Detroit I recall, but his real name is oddly similar being Andrew Mayer Cohen, lol. I wonder if the two of them have met (or if Mayer knows about Medora or even like Hoop Dreams, given I know Mayer is a big basketball fan). Although there have been/are likely many "Andy/Andrew" Cohen/Cohn 's given a relatively famous baseball player in the 1920's I recall had that name as well.

But in looking at Davy's imdb page , he has a reasonable list of credits besides Medora and Easier With Practice, including a film about Andrew and his magazine Found titled My Heart Is an Idiot. In fact I heard Davy interviewed on 89.3's morning show about a year ago when he came to Minneapolis for an appearance for Found.. Unfortunately I couldn't come out and see him for that event, since I had a Wedding that same day/evening to attend. But I messaged him on Facebook about my regrets and he was nice enough to message me back and friend me on there.

Which kind of got me thinking about him and documentaries actually. I've always wanted make a film about among others, Kevin Gilbert. But of course the time/money and knowledge of how to do it are among the many obstacles I may face. But maybe not Kevin, or just a documentary about something I personally find important to me. Like the music/progressive rock (or even just Dream Theater) culture (almost like a Trekkies for prog nerds? lol). Or blogging culture. I'm sure some have been made, even up on Youtube. But if I didn't do it, I wonder if someone like Davy and Andrew may or at least lend some advice/insights on how, if it would make sense, and just how much time/money it may require. Of course the ole, you'll likely "get out of it what you put into it," would come up, but the idea sort of crossed my mind. If not a documentary about Kevin, could a documentary about some of the culture I am involved with, music/scifi/blogging (or even some of my gf's interests) warrant a documentary (even if it's not even a fraction as compelling or successful as Medora or the even the best films on Youtube)?

I might only cite a short film like this as something that gives a bit of evidence.

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