Hoop Dreams

Hoop Dreams

Infobox Film
name = Hoop Dreams

caption =
writer = Steve James,
Frederick Marx
starring = William Gates,
Arthur Agee
director = Steve James
producer = Peter Gilbert,
Steve James,
Frederick Marx
distributor = Fine Line Features
released = October 14 1994
runtime = 170 mins
language = English
budget = N/A
amg_id = 1:133403
imdb_id = 0110057

"Hoop Dreams" is a 1994 documentary film directed by Steve James. It follows the story of two Chicago, Illinois high school students and their dream of becoming professional basketball players.

Originally intended to be a 30-minute short produced for the Public Broadcasting Service, it eventually led to 5 years of filming and 250 hours of footage. It premiered at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival where it won the Audience Award for Best Documentary. Despite its length (171 minutes) and unlikely commercial genre, it received high critical and popular acclaim. It was on more critics' top ten lists than any other film that year, including "Pulp Fiction", "Forrest Gump", "The Shawshank Redemption", "Heavenly Creatures" and "Quiz Show."

As of July 1, 2008 it had earned over $7.8 million, making it the tenth-highest-grossing documentary film in the United States - (in nominal dollars, from 1982 to the present).cite web
title=Documentary Movies


The film follows William Gates and Arthur Agee, two African-American teenagers who are recruited by St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois, a predominantly white high school with an outstanding basketball program. Taking 90-minute commutes to school, enduring long and difficult workouts and practices, and acclimatising to a foreign social environment, Gates and Agee struggle to improve their athletic skills in a job market with heavy competition. Along the way, their families celebrate their successes and support each other during times of hardship.

The film raises a number of issues concerning race, class, economic division, education and values in contemporary America. It also offers one of the most intimate views of inner-city life to be captured on film. Yet it is also the human story of two young men, their two families and their community, and the joys and struggles they live through over a period of five years.


Seed money for "Hoop Dreams" came from several sources, including the National Endowment for the Arts, PBS, and PBS member station KTCA in Minnesota. Kartemquin Films of Chicago is credited as a production organization along with KTCA. The movie was given as an example to defend the level of U.S. government funding of PBS, which was reduced in the following years.

Reception and legacy

"Hoop Dreams" received an Academy Award nomination for Best Film Editing, but was not nominated for Best Documentary Feature. This omission was criticized by Roger Ebert, who called "Hoop Dreams" better than any of the films that were nominated that year. [ [http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19950226/OSCARS/22010328 :: rogerebert.com :: Oscars :: Anatomy of a snub (xhtml) ] ] The decision was also mocked during the Oscar ceremony by host David Letterman; in a list of "Top Ten Signs the Movie You are Watching Will Not Win an Academy Award", number six was "It's a beautifully made documentary about two boys in the inner city trying to realize their dream of playing professional basketball." It also led to changes in the nomination procedure for the Best Documentary Oscar.

Film critic Roger Ebert named "Hoop Dreams" the best film of the 1990s. This movie ranked number 33 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 50 Best High School Movies. [ [http://www.ew.com/ew/report/0,6115,1532588_1_0_,00.html Countdown: The 50 best high school movies | Photo Gallery | News | Entertainment Weekly ] ]

Since the release of the film in 1994 both Arthur's father (Bo Agee) and William's older brother (Curtis Gates) were murdered in Chicago in unrelated homicides. Both individuals were featured prominently in the film.

In 2005, "Hoop Dreams" was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

"Hoop Dreams" is currently available on DVD, released through the Criterion Collection.


* 1994 Sundance Film Festival: Audience Award for Best Documentary
* 1994 Los Angeles Film Critics Association: Best Documentary
* 1994 Chicago Film Critics Award: Best Picture
* 1994 Producers Guild of America: Special Merit
* 1995 Academy Award Nomination: Best Editing
* 1995 George Foster Peabody Award
* 1995 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award
* National Society of Film Critics: Best Documentary
* New York Film Critics Circle: Best Documentary
* Directors Guild of America: Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary
* National Film Registry


Neither Agee nor Gates made the NBA. Nonetheless, both young men were able to turn the film's success and their subsequent fame into a better life for themselves and their families. They took the money generated from the film and bought better housing. Additionally Arthur Agee, the younger of the two basketball players, launched a foundation promoting higher education for inner city youth and began the "Hoop Dreams" sportswear line in 2006. Gates has also risen above his earlier circumstances while giving back to the community as senior pastor at Living Faith Community Center in Cabrini-Green, where he works at the Kids' Club. [ [http://www.chicagoist.com/2004/12/17/hoop_dreams_father_slain.php Chicagoist: "Hoop Dreams" father slain ] ]

External links

*imdb title|id=0110057|title=Hoop Dreams
* [http://www.kartemquin.com/films/hoop-dreams Kartemquin Films: "Hoop Dreams"]
* [http://www.hulu.com/hoop-dreams Entire movie available free online] from hulu.com
* [http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19941021/REVIEWS/410210301/1023 Original 1994 Roger Ebert review]
* [http://www.criterion.com/asp/release.asp?id=289&eid=414&section=essay Criterion Collection essay by John Edgar Wideman]
* [http://www.chicagosportsreview.com/redesign/inprint/contentview.asp?c=162723 Dream Another Dream] (Chicago Sports Review September 2005)
* [http://www.fmarxfilm.com Frederick Marx who was producer, writer, and editor on the film ]
* [http://www.arthuragee.com/ Arthur Agee who was one of the stars of the film ]


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