Hoop Dreams

Hoop Dreams is a 1994 American documentary film directed by Steve James and written by James and Frederick Marx , with Kartemquin Films . It follows the story of two African-American high school students in Chicago and their dream of becoming professional basketball players.

Originally intended to be a 30-minute short film produced for the Public Broadcasting Service , it would be a film and 250 hours of footage. It premiered at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival where it won the Audience Award for Best Documentary. Hoop Dreams is the most recent documentary film for the Academy Award for Best Film Editing . [2] Despite its length (171 minutes) and unlikely commercial genre, it has been widely acclaimed and grossed over $ 11 million worldwide. It is often considered as one of the greatest documentary films of all time.


The film follows William Gates and Arthur Agee , two African-American teenagers who are recruited by a scout from St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Ill. , A predominantly whitehigh school with an outstanding basketball program, whose alumni include NBA great Isiah Thomas .

Age and Gates are both from African-American neighborhoods in Chicago , Illinois. Gates lived in Cabrini-Green while Age and his family resided in West Garfield Park .

Taking 90-minute commutes to school, enduring long and difficult workouts, and having to acclimate to a foreign social environment, Gates and Age struggle to improve their athletic skills in a job market. Along the way, their families celebrate their successes and support each other during times of economic hardship.

The film raises a number of issues concerning race , social class , economic division, education , and values in the contemporary United States .



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 with a production organization along with KTCA. The film was given as an example of the US government funding of PBS, which was reduced in the following years.


Peter Gilbert, Steve James, and Frederick Marx to be a 30-minute short, shot in three weeks, to be aired on PBS, focusing on one playground and its young players. [3] The filmmakers watched the children back to their homes, and after nearly eight years, a 30-minute PBS special turned into a three-hour feature film on the lives of Gates and Agee, while grossing $ 7.8 million.

At one point, the electricity was turned off in the Age House; the filmmakers continued filming and (off-camera) provided money for the lights to be turned back on. [3]

Without any money, the crew is going into freshman year, seven days of freshman year and 10 days of sophomore year. Once again, the filmmakers have begun to hear positive results and gain funds. CPB funded $ 70,000 and KTCA gave another $ 60,000, MacArthur funded $ 250,000. With their large funds, the crew shot 40 days junior year, and shot 100 days between the summer of the year and the end of the film. [4]


The film was universally acclaimed by critics. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert gave the film “Two Thumbs Up” on their show, with both critics naming Hoop Dreams the best movie of 1994. [5] Ebert in his initial television review proclaimed “This is one of the best movies about American life that I’ve ever seen “, and later called it the best movie of the decade [5] and” one of the great moviegoing experiences of my lifetime. ” [6] In 2004, The New York Timesplaced the film on its Best 1000 Movies Ever list. [7] The film currently has a 98% “Certified Fresh” rating fromRotten Tomatoes , with the consensus stating, “One of the most critically acclaimed documentaries of all time, Hoop Dreams is a rich, complex, heartbreaking, and ultimately deeply rewarding film that uses high school hoops as a jumping-off point to explore issues of race, class, and education in modern America. ” [8]

The Official Movie Was # 1 on the International Documentary Association ‘s Top 25 Documentaries list, is based polling of members in 2007. [9]

When the movie, along with the acclaimed Crumb , was nominated in the Best Documentary category of the Academy Awards , the public was led by Barbara Kopple . [3] According to an angry Ebert, reliable sources said members of the Academy’s documentary nomination committee had a system in which they would have a flashlight on screen when they gave up on the film. When a majority of the lights flashed, the movie was turned off. Hoop Dreams did not even make it to 20 minutes. [10]

The Academy’s Executive Director Bruce Davis Took The Unprecedented step of asking accounting firm Price Waterhouse to turn over the full results of the voting, in qui members of the committee HAD rated Each of the 63 eligible documentaries were scale of zero to ten. “What I found,” said Davis, “is that a small group of members has given up every single film except the five they have been nominated. it also got rid of them, and it was enough to push it to sixth place. ” [11]


  • 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
  • 1994 Academy Award Nominated: 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

In 2007, the International Documentary Association named Hoop Dreams as its selection for the all-time greatest documentary. [3]


Neither Age nor Gates was drafted into the NBA . Nonetheless, they are able to turn the film’s success and their subsequent fame into a better life for themselves and their families. The producers gave both Gates and Agee $ 200,000 in royalties from the film. Gates is on the way to buy a house with the money. [12] Arthur Agee, the younger of the two basketball players, launched the “Hoop Dreams” sportswear line in 2006. Gates is the senior pastor at the Living Faith Community Center in Cabrini -Green , where he works at the Kids’ Club. [13]

In 2001 Gates received a call from Michael Jordan . Jordan was in the process of getting in shape so he could return to the NBA and play for the Washington Wizards . Initially Gates was invited to practice with Jordan, then Jordan started inviting professional NBA players to raise the level of competition and Gates stopped coming to practice. Jordan called Gates, “Will, we got your spot.I did not give it away just because these guys showed up.” Before Gates had a chance to try out for the Wizards he fractured his foot and decided to retire from basketball permanently. [14]

The families of both men and women have experienced the loss of the film. On Thanksgiving morning 1994, Agee’s older half-brother, DeAntonio, was gunned down at Cabrini-Green. In September 2001, Gates’ older brother, Curtis, 36, was shot to death in the Austin neighborhood. Arthur’s father, Bo Agee, was murdered in 2004.

The actual story behind Hoop Dreams was not over even after the film was released. Cable TV TNT channel planned to make a remake of the story as a fictional movie for television. [15] After the release of the film, William went to play basketball at Marquette University , while Arthur went to play at Arkansas State . However, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)they could not accept any money generated by the film without forfeiting their amateur status, which would cause them to lose their university scholarships and would make them ineligible to participate in NCAA-sanctioned intercollegiate athletic activities. [16]

A sequel Hoop Reality (2007) explores what happened during the last decade from where Hoop Dreams left off. Patrick Beverley from Chicago’s hardscrabble West Side appears as a struggling potential star at John Marshall Metropolitan High School and is mentored by Agee and basketball coach Lamont Bryant. As a postscript to Hoop Reality , Beverley was picked for the 2009 NBA draft and as of 2017 is with the Los Angeles Clippers . [17] [18]

In October and November 2009, a series of events were organized in Chicago to commemorate the 15th anniversary of Hoop Dreams . [19]

20th anniversary restoration

In December 2013, the Sundance Film Festival announced that Hoop Dreams would screen in the “From the Collection” program at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival , 20 years after the film made its world premiere at the 1994 Festival. Filmmakers Steve James, Peter Gilbert and Frederick Marx subjects and Arthur Agee and Sheila Agee Attended for the first of a new digital restoration That Was the collaborative efforts of the Sundance Institute , UCLA Film & Television Archive , the Academy Film Archive and Kartemquin Films . [20]

Hoop Dreams was shot primarily on analog Beta SP videotape, so the image was cropped and released for its commercial release. Working from multiple elements, including standard definition video masters and a 35mm film print, the project team has created a new uncropped, high-definition digital master that better represents the pictorial quality of the original videography. Digitally remastered at Modern VideoFilm with sound restoration by Audio Mechanics, this version allows future audiences to see the movie filmmakers. Nora Gully managed the restoration project for Kartemquin with archivist Carolyn Faber, working extensively with Ross Lipman , who oversaw the restoration for UCLA. [21]

2014 Festivals: Full Frame, BAFICI , Dokufest , BFI London Film Festival , Twin Cities Film Festival, Indie Memphis , and DOC NYC . Special celebratory screenings were also held in Los Angeles, Seattle and Chicago. [22]

The Criterion Collection announced on March 31, 2015, the newly restored Hoop Dreams would be released on Blu-ray for the first time. [23]

See also

  • List of movies shot over three years


  1. Jump up^ ” HOOP DREAMS (12)” . British Board of Film Classification . March 28, 1995 . Retrieved November 17, 2014 .
  2. Jump up^ Dunks, Glenn (December 6, 2014). “Team FYC: Citizenfour for Editing” . The Film Experience .
  3. ^ Jump up to:d Harrington, Rob (2009-04-01). “Dreams do not cost a thing” . Independent Weekly . Retrieved 2009-04-03 .
  4. Jump up^ Guerrasio, Jason (January 15, 2014). “An oral history of Hoop Dreams, 20 years after its first” . The Dissolve . Archived from the original on May 5, 2015 . Retrieved January 2, 2015 .
  5. ^ Jump up to:b “Ebert’s 10 Best Lists: 1967-present” . Chicago Sun-Times . Archived from the original on September 8, 2006 . Retrieved January 2,2014 .
  6. Jump up^ “Hoop Dreams Movie Review” . October 21, 1994 . Retrieved June 16,2015 .
  7. Jump up^ “The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made” . The New York Times . April 29, 2003 . Retrieved May 21, 2010 .
  8. Jump up^ “Hoop Dreams” . Rottentomatoes.com . Retrieved 14 January 2012 .
  9. Jump up^ Thomas White (December 2007). “IDA’s Top 25 Documentaries” . Documentary.org . Retrieved 9 January 2012 .
  10. Jump up^ “The Great American Documentary” . Chicago Sun Times . November 5, 2009. Archived from the original on June 24, 2011 . Retrieved November 29, 2010 .
  11. Jump up^ Pond, Steve,The Big Show: High Times and Dirty Dealings Backstage at the Academy Awards, p.74, Faber and Faber, 2005
  12. Jump up^ Davis, Seth. “Reality Show Ten years ago Hoop Dreams was turned into a couple of pals from Chicago into American idols, but a Hollywood ending has proved elusive” . SI.com . Retrieved 2017-08-29 .
  13. Jump up^ ” ” Hoop Dreams “Slain father” . Chicagoist . Archived from the original on December 24, 2014 . Retrieved January 2, 2015 .
  14. Jump up^ “Looking Back At Broken ‘Dreams’ (washingtonpost.com)” . www.washingtonpost.com . Retrieved 2017-08-29 .
  15. Jump up^ “The Directors of ‘Hoop Dreams ‘ ” . EW.com . 1994-11-11 . Retrieved 2017-08-29 .
  16. Jump up^ James, Caryn (7 October 1994). “Hoop Dreams: Dreaming the Dreams, Realizing the Realities” . The New York Times . Retrieved 2 January2015 .
  17. Jump up^ Hoop Reality (2007) onIMDb
  18. Jump up^ Scoop Jackson (7/2/2009). “Documentary film ‘Hoop Reality’ gets dream postscript” . ESPN . Retrieved April 22, 2015 . Check date values ​​in:(help ) |date=
  19. Jump up^ “Celebrate with us: 15th Anniversary Hoop Dreams!” . Kartemquin.com . Retrieved January 2, 2015 .
  20. Jump up^ Natasha Greeves (December 11, 2013). “2014 Sundance Film Fest Anniversaries 20th Anniversary of New – Shadow and Act” . Shadow and Act . Retrieved January 2, 2015 .
  21. Jump up^ “Hoop Dreams” . Kartemquin.com . Retrieved January 2, 2015 .
  22. Jump up^ “Hoop Dreams” . Kartemquin.com . Retrieved January 2, 2015 .
  23. Jump up^ “Hoop Dreams” . The Criterion Collection . Retrieved January 2, 2015 .

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