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This documentary follows two young African-Americans through their high school years as they perfect their skills in basketball in the hopes of getting a college scholarship and eventually play in the NBA. Arthur Agee and William Gates both show great potential and are are actively recruited as they look to enter high school. They start off at the same high school but unable to pay an unexpected bill for tuition fees, Arthur has to withdraw and go to the local public high school. The film follows them through their four years of high school and their trials and tribulations: injuries, slumps and the never ending battle to maintain their grades. Through it all, their hoop dreams continue. Written by
According to Roger Ebert, after the film failed to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary, he and Gene Siskel learned about the nominating process. He said that members of the Academy's documentary committee held flashlights when they watched documentaries, and anyone who had "given up" could wave it against the screen. The movie was turned off if a majority waved their flashlights. Hoop Dreams (1994) was turned off after 15 minutes. See more »
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Thanks to the St. Joseph High School community and Coach Gene Pingatore who agreed to participate in a not for profit Kartemquin Educational film telling William and Arthur's stories. Today, St. Joseph, with a 39% minority enrollment, remains committed to the dream of a better life for all. Awarding need based financial aid to 40% of its students, St. Joseph with limited resources continues to maintain its academic excellence. A Hoop Dreams Fund has been set up to provide academic scholarships. See more »
Ten years after I first saw this film, based on the mention that Siskel & Ebert made on their show, I am still blown away by it.
A good case could be made for this being the best motion picture of all time. It is simply amazing. The characters (if I can call them that) in the film will astound you with their depth, and this movie will suck you right in... if not to the Cabrini Green projects, at least into the lives of these 2 young men and their families. You will cheer for them, feel their pain, their sadness, their triumphs... and their determination to achieve something better for themselves and their loved ones.
I bought the DVD the day it was released, and can give high praise to the good folks at the Criterion Collection. The accompanying booklet contains 3 excellent essays/articles as well as a complete list of the people in the film. The extras on the DVD are well worth watching, escpecially the commentary from Arthur & William.
To Frederick Marx, Peter Gilbert, and Steve James: Great job, guys. Your dedication to this project, and your understanding of the subject matter (that it was about more than mere basketball, from the beginning) have made a truly excellent film. Thank you.
To Arthur Agee & William Gates: You are both exemplary men, and the example of your lives, your perseverance, your awareness of yourselves and the world you live in, should serve as role models for all of us, regardless of age, color, or income. You are both heroes of mine, and have been for more than 10 years.
To the Agee & Gates families: Thank you for allowing these filmmakers access to your lives for so many years. I have wept at your hardships, and screamed joyously at your triumphs. Your dedication and love for each other is nothing short of inspirational.
If you are reading this and you have not seen this film, PLEASE go get a copy and watch it. You will not have wasted a single minute of your life by having done so.
A truly awesome film.
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