Frederick Marx

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Hoop Dreams Review


Excellent
Before Hoop Dreams, they didn't make documentaries like this. Non-fiction films were almost invariably a series of talking heads placed against a backdrop of some kind of studio drapery, intercut with archival footage. After 90 minutes, some critical, cultural subject (say, the Vietnam Memorial, the plight of undernourished children) would be illuminated -- with the goal of driving the audience to either run immediately for a museum or to make a donation to some relevant charity.

Hoop Dreams was something different: A three-hour film that documented the lives of two underprivileged black youths, William Gates and Arthur Agee, both trying to make it from high school and street pick-up games to college and eventually professional basketball. Filmmakers Peter Gilbert, Steve James, and Frederick Marx followed these "hoop dreams" for five long years, cutting a mountain of footage into what has become one of cinema's most beloved and enduring documentaries. (At the time, it was the highest grossing doc ever.)

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