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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Hoop Dreams': An Extraordinary Documentation of Two Young Basketball Phenoms' Lives and Aspirations

Movie poster for the documentary Hoop Dreams from filmmaker Steve James

Hoop Dreams (1994) is an extraordinary American sports documentary focused on two African-American teenagers, William Gates and Arthur Agee, competing at the highest level of high school basketball while dreaming of future success on the hardwood courts of the National Basketball Association.

Traveling daily from inner-city Chicago to suburban Westchester, Illinois to attend St. Joseph High School, the two young men strive for excellence on the court while struggling to assimilate to a predominantly white student populace. Enduring lengthy and physically demanding practices under legendary head coach Gene Pingatore, Gates and Agee both yearn for deliverance from lives of poverty while embracing dreams of wealth and prosperity for themselves and their families. As their lives ultimately diverge onto very different paths, the film follows their varying trials and tribulations as they progress toward young adulthood.

Directed by renowned American documentarian Steve James (Prefontaine, The Interrupters), Hoop Dreams is an absorbing and touching cinematic achievement, showcasing the enormously compelling lives of two young athletes both on-and-off the court. Working with over 250 hours of footage shot over a period of 5 years, James has crafted an incisive depiction of ambition, hardship and social inequality in 1990's-era America. With a deft hand toward the human side of Gates and Agee's story, he has delivered one of the most profoundly moving documentaries ever put to film.


View the trailer:


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