A documentary that follows the Manassas Tigers football team, a severely underfunded and underprivileged football team -- who were even hired out as a practice team for more successful schools -- as they reverse their fortunes, thanks to coach Bill Courtney.Written by
Was rejected by the prestigious Sundance festival in 2012, so its directors was accepted and shown at the South By Southwest Festival in Austin--where it was bought for distribution and went on to win the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. See more »
The character of a man is not measured in how he handles his wins, but what he does with his failures
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Oscar-award winning documentary "Undefeated" maximizes it out-take from being at the right place at the right time. The movies focuses its attention on a failing high-school American football team Manassas Tigers in Memphis, Tennessee, yet to ever win a play-off game in the rich 110 years of existence. The Manassas high-school is located in an all-black neighborhood suffering from extreme unemployment rates after the closure of the local Bridgestone plant. Most children lack parental guidance, whilst being raised by grandmothers or single parents is an all-too-familiar sight. In one reveal almost everyone in the team has close relatives convicted of various sorts of crimes with some of the most aggressive youths, like Chavis Daniels, already having spent time in correctional facilities. Into this backdrop of dire hopelessness comes Bill Courtney, a successful businessman, whose true calling and passion is coaching football teams. Having offered six years of his time on pro-bono formation of Manassas Tigers, this year is supposed to be his swansong. His key weapon is the brute force of O.C. Brown, the most talented player on the team, however his educational struggles pose question as to whether he will be able to continue to college with his education. Meanwhile miniscule right-back Montrail 'Money' Brown, a well-versed and perspective youth, hopes to finish his career in football (as being too small to succeed in pro gaming) on a high. Will the school be able to break the 110 year play-off jinx?
Molded into the all too familiar underdog sports story of a team of misfits conquering the odds, it is easy to understand the Academy's decision. Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin spent a significant amount of time filming the ordeals of Bill Courtney and his challenged youth team, capturing a spectacular moment in time, when the group turn from perennial whooping boys into the dominant regional outfit with a knack for big comebacks.
Given this extraordinary backdrop the film directors come off with rich material to form a documentary. Even though the ease in which the story fits the mold of narrative genre films feels somewhat suspect and forced at times, the viewing is really pleasurable. Plus, despite everything else you know this is real life and although the directors hint at outcomes along the way, you never truly know what will happen, giving it a unique, engaging quality, so desperately lacking in features. Full of heart, passion and a hopeful outlook this really does seem like the kind of stuff the Academy would go for. Worthwhile watch, even if the year in question had superior documentaries to choose from.
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