Through The Fire (Documentary)
Sound: C+ Extras: B Documentary: B
Basketball is as huge as any sport today and tends to have
less labor troubles, for whatever reasons.
Though it is not thought of this at the moment, Basketball is in a very
important golden age period that is still on the climb and it is one of the
great stories of our time that is not being recognized as such. Fortunately, some fine documentaries on the
subject are being produced and following the landmark Hoop Dreams whose
significance has still not totally registered is Jonathan Hock’s Through The
It began as a story about a Coney Island basketball team
about to become High school champs for the third year in a row. Part of the reason for their success besides
the usual teamwork and chemistry is a rising star named Sebastian Telfair. He comes from a big family in a very tough
neighborhood and several of his brothers are also basketball fans and serious
players. However, there is something
special about basketball and this family.
Older brother Jamal almost made it into the big time, so the idea of
success almost being in their grasp is a frustrating reality.
Telfair keeps getting better, but he still does not get
the absolute respect he might get otherwise and the issue is more about youth
and height than anything else. More
remarkable as the so-called experts trying to figure out his chances for big
success and the arrogance of some of the media is remarkable. It is almost as bad as many film critics!
The wind-up of this project that was on its way to
becoming another Hoop Dreams is this almost magical twist of fate where
Telfair suddenly becomes front and center, needing to choose between school and
the professional NBA leagues. Many also
wondered if any team would even pick him in the draft, but…
Well, unless you are a fan of the sport, you don’t know
the conclusion and that should be saved for those who enjoy the suspense. Through The Fire is a terrific
documentary about basketball, choices, character, business and the heart and
soul of The American Dream still pumping hard against all odds. ESPN Home Entertainment released this gem
and it could be the start of what ought to be a great run of feature projects. We can use it!
The letterboxed 1.78 X 1 image is shot on a Mini-DV type
of format, with the usual flaws and limits, but it gets the job done and is
fine for this type of program thanks to director of photography
(electronic/digital) Alastair Christopher’s heart and soul involvement in every
moment. Note it is NOT anamorphically
enhanced. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix has
few surrounds, but is a good distilling of the basic stereo recorded on the
scene throughout. Besides some Hip
Hop/Rap genre music, Duncan Sheik and Pete Miser did the original music. Extras include director/cinematographer
audio commentary, deleted scenes, TriBeCa Film Festival Q&A, highlights of
Telfair’s work and extended interviews.
- Nicholas Sheffo