August 11, 2012 at 10:06 am | Posted in Documentary Review, Film Review | Leave a comment
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The 41st Wellington Film Festival is on; I went to see Undefeated.

I like underdog sports movies; well this is certainly one. It is a film in the tradition of Hoop Dreams. It is The Blind Side from the perspective of the coach – Bill Courtney.

Film and documentary makers, Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin, follow Bill over the course of the Memphis high school [American] football season. We see the Manassas Tigers of Manassas High School work their way through 10+ weeks of their lives. Young men in difficult circumstances, with the guidance of Bill, overcome their demons.

It is a very inspiring film: of good people putting their hand up to make a difference; and of good people in difficult circumstances doing the best they can – sometimes it is not enough. Bill has a mantra: “The measure of a man is not how you handle winning, but how you handle defeat.” For young men cast into a social-economic situation where they face more barriers than accelerators, this is very important.

Bill and his assistant coaches volunteer their time free to coach and to be father figures to the young men on the football team. Mike Ray, one of the assistant coaches, takes in one of the players so that he can be tutored; OC Brown lives with his grandmother in a part of town the tutors won’t go to! Bill has to console ‘Money’ Brown, who injures his knee, and almost drops out of high school. Then there is Chavis Daniels, who is back at school after a spell in ‘juve’, and has huge anger management (and self control) issues.

But it all ends well: OC’s SAT scores are enough to make him eligible for a sports scholarship (Southern Mississippi); Money gets a private scholarship to the same university; and Chavis learns self discipline and stayed on the football team (and school).

Well worth a look: there are human stories; and views of life in 21st century America.

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