One of the most critically acclaimed documentaries of all-time, HOOP DREAMS has become a model for how to construct a fact-based film, creating intimate and emotionally resonant portraits of its subjects while exploring the larger social issues that those subjects are negotiating with. The film focuses on William Gates and Arthur Agee, two teenagers from inner-city Chicago, and follows them for almost five years, the period where both enter and complete their high school careers. Both young men are talented basketball players, and as the title suggests, have their eyes on the college game and eventually the NBA as their best shot at escaping the poverty they grew up in. But as William and Arthur reach for their goal, they must contend with the pressing issues and difficulties of social class and racism, as well as the predatory practices of the basketball recruiters who entice the pair to attend their schools. In this way, HOOP DREAMS chronicles much more than just the individual experiences of two young men. It examines the larger problems that beset inner-city African-American families and how they cope with those difficulties through family support and friendship, as well as presenting a picture of the increasingly ruthless, big-business tactics of college and even high school sports. It remains a seminal documentary film, both affecting and thought provoking in its story of lives and dreams entangled by forces beyond their control.
Main Cast & Crew:
Steve James - Director
- Format: Blu-ray (Criterion Collection)
- Run Time: 174
- Color Format: Color
- UPC: 715515141314
- Genre: Documentary
- Rating: PG-13 (MPAA)
- Release Date: May 2005
The product of 5 years of filming and 250 hours of footage, this documentary premiered at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival where it won the audience award. In Chicago's inner-city, 14-year-olds William Gates and Arthur Agee are high school basketball players who dream of making it to the NBA. This compilation follows four years in their parallel lives, as William and Arthur go through trials and triumphs, successes and setbacks both on and off the court.
Due to the outcry when "Hoop Dreams" failed to receive a nomination for best documentary from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1995, the Academy changed the procedures by which such films would be nominated in the future. The Academy decided to restrict nominations to feature-length documentaries that have been shown theatrically in New York or Los Angeles (thus eliminating films shown only at film festivals) and splitting the viewing of these films between two panels of judges. Originally produced for the Public Broadcasting Service. Also appearing: Earl Smith (unofficial talent scout); Gene Pingatore (basketball coach); Curtis Gate (William's brother); Emma Gates (William's mother); Arthur "Bo" Agee and Sheila Agee (Arthur's parents); Sister Marilyn Hopewell (guidance counselor); Patricia Wier (President Encyclopedia Britannica); Marjorie Heard (guidance counselor); Luther Bedford (head basketball coach); Aretha Mitchell (guidance counselor); Shannon Johnson (friend); Catherine Mines & Baby Alicia; and Alvin Bibbs (Gates' brother-in-law) Additional credits: Gordon Quinn, Ed Scott, Sid Lubitsch, Kevin McCarey, Mirko Popadic, Jim Morrissette, and Jim Fetterley (additional photography); Adam Singer (sound); Tom Yore (additional music); Ed Scott, Mirko Popadic, Bill Jenkins (additional sound). Copyright 1994 Kartemquin Educational Films and KTCA-TV. Rated BBFC 15 by the British Board of Film Classification.
"...A powerful and moving real-life story..." - Recommended - 05/01/1995 Premiere, p.134
"...This unflinching masterwork is a heartfelt vision of sports and family values that will leave you cheering..." - 11/03/1994 Rolling Stone, p.106
"...[This] fascinating, suspenseful film turns the endless revision of the American dream into high drama....[A] profound social tale..." - 10/07/1994 New York Times, p.C1
"...Brutally poignant..." -- Rating: A - 04/21/1995 Entertainment Weekly, pp.64-5
"...A prodigious achievement that conveys the fabric of modern American life, aspirations, and incidentally, sports in close-up and at length, HOOP DREAMS is a documentary slam dunk..." - 02/14/1994 Variety
"...Utterly, heartbreakingly lucid....Inspiring..." - 11/01/1994 Film Comment, p.71-3
"...There is something about the film's upfront rawness that pitches it engagingly somewhere between home movie and drama..." - 04/01/1995 Sight and Sound, p.44-5
Ranked #7 in Entertainment Weekly's Top Ten DVDs Of The Year -- "Episodes of turmoil and triumph run rampant in this 1994 documentary..." - 12/30/2005 Entertainment Weekly, p.126
"[I]n addition to being a top-notch sports film, it's a sobering study of race, class and life in the inner city." - 10/02/2009 Wall Street Journal
"[A] heartbreaking coming-of-age story—a vision of the elation, but also the anxiety and disappointment, that can come from chasing a career in athletics." - 04/01/2015 A.V. Club