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Ballin' at the Graveyard (2014)

An exploration of the unique culture and community at one urban pickup basketball court and the inspiring off-court lives of five players.

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Cast overview:
Basil Anastassiou ...
Gerald Malcolm ...
Jarming White ...
Mark Edmonds ...
Kelvin Danzy ...
Jamil Hood ...
James Tucker ...
Mark Bobb-Semple ...
Henry Douglas ...
Brian Hines ...


While a rare few achieve professional success through basketball, for most players, the journey will end on the same neighborhood pickup court where it began, playing for pride, friendship, community and great love of the game. This surprising documentary vividly illuminates the heart, humor and brotherhood at one such court: Albany, New York's Washington Park, AKA "The Graveyard." What happens on this pickup court is only half the story. It's in the off-court lives of five Graveyard ballers that the heart of the film emerges. In their inspiring life stories, perseverance and purpose triumph over hardship, obstacles and bad choices. These are not perfect men, but their determination to make a positive impact in this world will not be denied. This uplifting film will challenge what you think you know about the men behind the chain link fence Written by anonymous

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14 October 2014 (USA)  »

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A little documentary with a big heart
6 December 2014 | by (US) – See all my reviews

Big-hearted doc about the players (almost all African-American, between 20 and 45) who meet every weekend for basketball in 'The Graveyard' -Washington Park in Albany. They've been going for years, a generation played before them, and their kids will play there next.

For the first half we watch the play, the pushing, the struggle for who has 'next', the arguments about every call (a number of players admit they're willing to lie through their teeth), and the trash talk -- the best have turned it into an effective weapon to get in the heads and melt down the emotions of their opponents. But there is also a whole lot of laughter and love between these men who look forward all week to coming out to the park, seeing their old friends, letting off steam. There's also racial politics. White players can get in, but you gotta earn your place, and the guys aren't going to make it easy. White player (and co-director), Basil says he likes to not be in the position of privilege for once, to have to go the extra mile to prove he belongs. And if you're some kid who thinks he's cool, you better be ready to back it up, or these 'old men' will play you right off the court.

But what takes the film to another level is the 2nd half, where we get to know these men away from the courts. In 'real life' they're mostly gentle, kind people, most of whom work serving others, whether as a teacher, a judge, or working at a halfway house. It's a lesson in not judging books by their covers; the ferocious street-wise manner on the court is only one side of these men, who also have big hearts and big minds to go with their (often funny) big on-court egos.

The camera-work is rudimentary, the crew was tiny, and the whole thing looks like it cost a dime to make. But when you've got a good story, with good characters, everything else will find a way. It may never win an Oscar, just like these guys will never be NBA players. But they both got game.

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