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Hoop Dreams Movie Review

awards film feature documentary

Hoop Dreams is nearly three hours long, but the men and women who made it spent nearly five years on it, accumulating an average of an hour's worth of footage every week. It focuses on William Gates and Arthur Agee, two black Chicago teenagers, and their heartrending efforts to become professional basketball players. When you think of the obstacles that must have occurred during a project of this scope, you wonder how Gates and Agee were able to stand such close observation for such an extended length of time. You also wonder about the filmmakers; when setbacks occurred (and there were plenty), did anyone consider scrapping this picture? The intimacy of 1973's An American Family was almost too extreme; to see a marriage break up in front of cameras both parties knew were there became the topic of a national debate. Did we really need to watch such intensely personal moments on television? Hoop Dreams is even more unsparing of the privacy of its subjects; one of the boys (and the audience) sees his own father buying drugs to support his crack habit. There are other family difficulties and financial problems and injuries and corrective surgery and a hold-up and more. No kid should have to grow up with this much stress, and yet half a million high school kids hope to be among the 25 who are drafted annually to become professional basketball players. Hoop Dreams tells the true story of two kids who tried to buck those tremendous odds and how their lives changed as a result.

1994 (PG-13) 169m/C Arthur Agee, William Gates; D: Steve James; C: Peter Gilbert. Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards ‘94: Best Feature Documentary; MTV Movie Awards ‘95: Best New Filmmaker Award (James); National Board of Review Awards ‘94: Best Feature Documentary; New York Film Critics Awards ‘94: Best Feature Documentary; National Society of Film Critics Awards ‘94: Best Feature Documentary; Sundance Film Festival ‘94: Audience Award; Nominations: Academy Awards ‘94: Best Film Editing. VHS, LV

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