In February, a previously little-known film called "Undefeated" won the 2011 Oscar for best documentary feature. The victory was a landmark achievement for sports films, but more specifically for high school sports movies as it became the most decorated sports doc since Hoop Dreams.
Now, a new film that could paint an equally vivid and important picture of life in small town American through the microcosm of a tiny Indiana high school boys basketball team is nearing the editing process. The movie was shot and directed by partners who have contributed to NPR's "This American Life," the New Yorker, the New York Times and McSweeney's. More impressively, the early results were so promising that both Steve Buscemi and Stanley Tucci have signed on to be executive producers of the project.
And yet, because of a total lack of funding (the directors funded the entire shooting of the film themselves) the movie -- currently titled Medora, after the small Indiana town in which it was shot -- may not even see the light of day unless the aforementioned directors can raise another $9,000 by May 17. That's where the general public comes in, with the directors offering to give anyone who donates $1,000 or more an Associate Producer credit for the film.
That's right, you could have your scroll across shortly after Steve Buscemi and Stanley Tucci on a film which could prove as transcendent to modern day basketball as "Hoop Dreams" was to the 90s.
If the elongated trailer above didn't prove captivating enough, here's more detail about inspiring Medora project, which follows the woeful Medora Hornets, owners of a remarkable 44-game losing streak at the film's onset. Of course, according to Davy Rothbart, Medora co-director and a "This American Life" contributor, the movie eventually tackles much more than high school basketball in isolation.
The team's struggle to compete bears eerie resonances with the town's fight for survival in a country whose economy has shifted away from farming and manufacturing. …
On a grander scale, it's a film about America, and the thousands of small towns across the country facing the same fight. As one townsperson told us, "Once we lose these small towns, we can't get them back."
Whether one can afford to donate to the project or not, the movie's Kickstarter fundraising page is worth a look for the powerful photos and footage from Medora alone. It's hard to think of a more perfect representation of a struggling manufacturing town in middle America. Considering the fact that the entire town's population is a meager 485, the film also clearly speaks to the essential civic role that prep sports play in the larger community, particularly as that community struggles to adapt to changing economic realities.
Or, as Tucci put it more succinctly:
"This film is vital. It shows how America has cannibalized itself."
Let's all hope Medora gets made, because it would be a crime for any footage that impressive and potentially transcendent to stay locked away.
- Stanley Tucci