November 16, 2008

Hoop Dreams Update

You don't have to be a fan of basketball to be a fan of Hoop Dreams.  It routinely makes it into the upper echelons of everyone's "best documentaries of all time" lists, and not infrequently it's in the top spot of such lists.  It's a great film and probably my favorite documentary as well, for all kinds of reasons.  Fifteen years in, The Chicago Tribune has a short update on the stars of the film and the divergent paths their lives have taken post-documentary:
For more than a decade, the pair have been bound by unexpected fame. The two Chicago high school basketball players were featured in the 1994 hit documentary "Hoop Dreams." Now in their mid-30s, their contrasting fates may surprise the many people who saw the movie.

Gates, the reserved one, has become an authoritative force who leads a church in the Cabrini area. He is married with four kids. Agee, a spirited charmer, doesn't have a regular job but is launching a line of "Hoop Dreams" apparel. He has five kids by five different women.
After seeing the film for the first time I remember wondering about the "true" nature of the two's friendship, so in addition to reading that the two are still friends I liked reading this little tidbit:  
The teenagers knew each other casually before "Hoop Dreams" was made, but they grew extremely close over the five years of filming. They even had secret sleepovers at each others' homes, unbeknownst to the film crew.

"We were teenagers—we didn't want them knowing everything that we were doing," Gates said.
If you've never seen Hoop Dreams, do yourself a favor and watch it for free on Hulu.


will said...

i love hoop dreams, too. forget documentaries, for a while i considered this movie my all-time favorite, no qualifiers. that's really interesting about william gates leading a church. i never would have guessed that. as for arthur agee, he probably has too much of his dad in him, you know? i think my favorite part of the movie is when arthur agees says, "i just love basketball." or when he is smiling so big when he gets to play isaiah one on one at the prep school freshman camp. you can't help but fall in love with arthur agee while watching that movie. and you can't help but wonder what would have happened to william gates if he hadn't had injury problems. that's awesome that they slept over at each other's houses during the filming.

Pomeroy Kinsey said...

What a risky gamble making that documentary was, though. Follow a couple of young possible basketball stars from the inner city for five years. This is the sort of documentary that took real courage to make. I agree - it's one of my favorite movies, too. The best documentaries seem to be about everything, and not just the narrow subject matter under consideration, and no documentary does this better than Hoop Dreams, and maybe some of Errol Morris's documentaries, and maybe Capturing the Friedman's.

J said...

will - you're right about agee in the movie. i remember watching it and wishing that i was his friend.

pomeroy - it was definitely a gamble and from a sports stand point i bet its something you couldn't even do these days. any top 50 high school basketball (or any sport for that matter) player these days is already thinking about branding and wouldn't agree to give anyone the kind of access that hoop dreams took unless they were guaranteed to come out looking golden