Hoop Dreams


2h 51m 1994
Hoop Dreams

Brief Synopsis

Two black teenagers struggle to become professional basketball players.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Documentary
Sports
Release Date
1994
Production Company
Kartemquin Films, Ltd.
Distribution Company
Fine Line Features; Fine Line Features; New Line Home Entertainment

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 51m

Synopsis

A chronicle of the lives and high-school careers of two inner-city youths who both harbor legitimate hopes of playing professional basketball. The filmmakers followed William Gates and Arthur Agee for nearly five years, from the summer after they leave elementary school, through high school up to their entry into college in the fall of 1991.

Cast

William Gates

Himself

Arthur Agee

Himself

Emma Gates

Herself--William'S Mother

Curtis Gates

Himself--William'S Brother

Sheila Agee

Herself--Arthur'S Mother

Arthur Agee

Himself--Arthur'S Father

Earl Smith

Himself--Talent Scout

Gene Pingatore

Himself--St Joseph High School Basketball Coach

Isiah Thomas

Himself--Detroit Piston Basketball Player

Sister Marilyn Hopewell

Herself--St Joseph Guidance Counselor

Bill Gleason

Himself--"Sportswriter On Tv" Reporter

Patricia Weir

Herself--President Encyclopedia Brittanica

Marjorie Heard

Herself--Marshall High School Guidance Counselor

Luther Bedford

Himself--Marshall High School Basketball Coach

Aretha Mitchell

Herself--Marshall High School Guidance Counselor

Shannon Johnson

Himself--Arthur'S Best Friend

Tomika Agee

Herself--Arthur'S Sister

Joe Agee

Himself--Arthur'S Brother

Jazz Agee

Herself--Tomika'S Daughter (Arthur'S Niece)

Catherine Mines

Herself--William'S Girlfriend

Alicia Mines

Herself--William'S Daughter

Alvin Bibbs

Himself--William'S Brother-In-Law

Willie Gates

Himself--William'S Father

James Kelly

Himself--Marshall Teacher And School Registrar

Michael O'brien

Himself--St Joseph High School Director Of Finance

Dick Vitale

Himself--Television Sports Commentator

Kevin O'neill

Himself--Marquette University Head Basketball Coach

Bobby Knight

Himself--Indiana University Head Basketball Coach

Joey Meyer

Himself--Depaul University Head Basketball Coach

Frank Dubois

Himself--Nike Camp Academic Director

Spike Lee

Himself--Film Director

Bo Ellis

Himself--Marquette University Assistant Basketball Coach

Bob Gibbons

Himself--Independent Basketball Scout

Dennis Doyle

Himself--St Joseph High School Assistant Basketball Coach

Clarence Webb

Himself--Marshall High School Science Teacher

Stan Wilson

Himself--Independent Basketball Scout

Derrick Zinneman

Himself--Marshall High School Basketball Player

Myron Gordon

Himself--Mineral Area Junior College Basketball Player

Steve James

Narration

Crew

Catherine Allan

Executive Producer

Lou Anastas

Assistant Editor

Linda Balek

Assistant Editor

Gerry Berlin

Legal Assistance

Brian W Boyd

Production Assistant

Corey Coken

Audio Mix

Ric Coken

Audio Mix

Ena Dahm

Accounting

Fenell Doremus

Post-Production Coordinator

Fenell Doremus

Other

Fenell Doremus

Assistant Editor

George Eastman

Titles

Joanne Elam

Accounting

Brian Farley

Production Assistant

Jim Fetterley

Additional Photography

Jim Fetterley

Assistant Editor

Jim Fetterley

Other

Sarah Galloway

Assistant Editor

Julia Gibbs

Production Assistant

Peter Gilbert

Producer

Peter Gilbert

Director Of Photography

Bill Haugse

Editor

Bryen Hensley

Audio Mix

Laura Hoffman

Research

Richard J Holland

Production Stills

Jenny Sioux Hopkins

Other

Lisa Hubbard

Assistant Editor

Steve James

Producer

Steve James

Editor

Steve James

Screenwriter

Bill Jenkins

Additional Sound

Tricia John

Accounting

Robert Jung

Colorist

Quentin King

Legal Assistance

Ada Kolmodin

Production Stills

Neil Laird

Assistant Editor

Neil Laird

Production Assistant

Craig Leffel

Colorist

Sid Lubitsch

Additional Photography

Margaret Marvin

Audio Mix

Frederick Marx

Editor

Frederick Marx

Producer

Marcy Mccall

Other

Kevin Mccarey

Additional Photography

Bill Morris

Production Assistant

Bill Morris

Other

Jim Morrisette

Technical Consultant

Jim Morrissette

Additional Photography

Bob Musker

Production Assistant

Mark Nielson

Other

Mike Perelstein

Legal Assistance

Brian Pitts

Production Assistant

Mirko Popadic

Additional Photography

Mirko Popadic

Additional Sound

Gordon Quinn

Executive Producer

Gordon Quinn

Additional Photography

Gordon Quinn

Creative Consultant

Chuck Rapp

Audio Mix

Gerry Richman

Executive In Charge Of Ktca

Eric Scholl

Other

Ed Scott

Additional Sound

Ed Scott

Additional Photography

Ben Sidran

Music Producer

Bill Siegel

Research

Adam Singer

Sound

Adam Singer

Production Stills

John Sloss

Legal Assistance

Jill Soloway

Other

Melissa Sterne

Kartemquin On-Line

Emily Stevens

Ktca Production Manager

Suzanne Suffredin

Post-Production Supervisor

Stephanie Wertlake

Other

Tom Yore

Additional Music

Tom Yore

Sound

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Documentary
Sports
Release Date
1994
Production Company
Kartemquin Films, Ltd.
Distribution Company
Fine Line Features; Fine Line Features; New Line Home Entertainment

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 51m

Award Nominations

Best Editing

1994
Bill Haugse

Best Editing

1994
Steve James

Best Editing

1994
Frederick Marx

Articles

Hoop Dreams


Documentary films rarely get the audience or the attention they deserve but often they are more compelling and interesting than any fantasy Hollywood could concoct. A brilliant case in point is Hoop Dreams, the true story of two inner-city youths, their love of basketball, and their dreams of NBA glory. William Gates and Arthur Agee were two talented athletes who were plucked from their poor Chicago neighborhood and given an opportunity to compete with other NBA hopefuls on the courts. As we soon see their struggle for success is no fairy tale with a Hollywood happy ending but an unpredictable journey with numerous detours: troubled family life, financial instability, academic difficulties, health problems, and the pressures of athletic competition. You don't have to be a basketball fan to be riveted by this candid look at two American dreamers and what happens to them during their quest.

Originally, filmmakers Steve James, Frederick Marx, and Peter Gilbert approached Gordon Quinn of Kartemquin Films in 1986 about making a short film on the culture of "street basketball" with the playground courts of Chicago as the focus. After starting the project, the filmmakers decided to narrow the scope of their film, concentrating on William Gates and Arthur Agee. Eventually, what started out as a short film became an epic five year chronicle with the filmmakers collecting over 250 hours of film. They captured birthday parties, practice sessions, and interviews with friends and family members. Producer Peter Gilbert said "At its center, we wanted the film to be warm and emotional. We want people to see these families as going through some very rough times, overcoming a lot of obstacles, and rising above some of the typical media stereotypes that people have about inner-city families." But in addition to documenting the human drama at the heart of the story, Hoop Dreams offers a complex and revealing look at "the American Dream." Director Steve James reminds us that "the dream is about far more than the fantasy of playing in the NBA. It provides kids like William and Arthur with an identity and real opportunities. It can be a daily escape from the hard realities of the inner city and even help hold their families together. If they risk tragedy by caring too much about basketball, it's because the game is one of the precious few ways they know of to achieve a better life."

Although overlooked by the Academy Awards for Best Documentary, Hoop Dreams has received more than its share of critical accolades, receiving rave reviews from such publications as The New York Times, Newsweek, and The New Yorker. The latter wrote "what makes Hoop Dreams such a rich, clear-eyed vision of inner-city life is that it celebrates, and evokes in the audience, the ambiguous thrill of not knowing how things are going to turn out, the joy of pure potential."

Producer: Peter Gilbert, Steve James, Frederick Marx
Director: Steve James
Writing credits: Steve James, Frederick Marx
Music: Ben Sidran
Cinematography: Peter Gilbert
Film Editing: William Haugse, Steve James, Frederick Marx
Cast: William Gates, Arthur Agee, Emma Gates, Arthur 'Bo' Agree, Earl Smith, Isiah Thomas, Curtis Gates.
C-174m.

Hoop Dreams

Hoop Dreams

Documentary films rarely get the audience or the attention they deserve but often they are more compelling and interesting than any fantasy Hollywood could concoct. A brilliant case in point is Hoop Dreams, the true story of two inner-city youths, their love of basketball, and their dreams of NBA glory. William Gates and Arthur Agee were two talented athletes who were plucked from their poor Chicago neighborhood and given an opportunity to compete with other NBA hopefuls on the courts. As we soon see their struggle for success is no fairy tale with a Hollywood happy ending but an unpredictable journey with numerous detours: troubled family life, financial instability, academic difficulties, health problems, and the pressures of athletic competition. You don't have to be a basketball fan to be riveted by this candid look at two American dreamers and what happens to them during their quest. Originally, filmmakers Steve James, Frederick Marx, and Peter Gilbert approached Gordon Quinn of Kartemquin Films in 1986 about making a short film on the culture of "street basketball" with the playground courts of Chicago as the focus. After starting the project, the filmmakers decided to narrow the scope of their film, concentrating on William Gates and Arthur Agee. Eventually, what started out as a short film became an epic five year chronicle with the filmmakers collecting over 250 hours of film. They captured birthday parties, practice sessions, and interviews with friends and family members. Producer Peter Gilbert said "At its center, we wanted the film to be warm and emotional. We want people to see these families as going through some very rough times, overcoming a lot of obstacles, and rising above some of the typical media stereotypes that people have about inner-city families." But in addition to documenting the human drama at the heart of the story, Hoop Dreams offers a complex and revealing look at "the American Dream." Director Steve James reminds us that "the dream is about far more than the fantasy of playing in the NBA. It provides kids like William and Arthur with an identity and real opportunities. It can be a daily escape from the hard realities of the inner city and even help hold their families together. If they risk tragedy by caring too much about basketball, it's because the game is one of the precious few ways they know of to achieve a better life." Although overlooked by the Academy Awards for Best Documentary, Hoop Dreams has received more than its share of critical accolades, receiving rave reviews from such publications as The New York Times, Newsweek, and The New Yorker. The latter wrote "what makes Hoop Dreams such a rich, clear-eyed vision of inner-city life is that it celebrates, and evokes in the audience, the ambiguous thrill of not knowing how things are going to turn out, the joy of pure potential." Producer: Peter Gilbert, Steve James, Frederick Marx Director: Steve James Writing credits: Steve James, Frederick Marx Music: Ben Sidran Cinematography: Peter Gilbert Film Editing: William Haugse, Steve James, Frederick Marx Cast: William Gates, Arthur Agee, Emma Gates, Arthur 'Bo' Agree, Earl Smith, Isiah Thomas, Curtis Gates. C-174m.

Hoop Dreams on DVD


An enormously popular documentary hit from 1994, Hoop Dreams held audiences spellbound. The almost three hour feature tells the story of two talented basketball hopefuls from Chicago's most dangerous housing projects pursuing a dream of making it as future NBA stars. That means getting on serious high school teams and going "downstate" to compete in high-profile tournament play.

Filmmakers Steve James, Frederick Marx and Peter Gilbert followed Arthur Agee and William Gates for five years, documenting every bit of their lives. Two disadvantaged families struggle to stay together while their potential superstar sons make tough decisions in search of their dreams. It's not easy; the system seems to say that escape from the projects is impossible.

The boys must stay focused on their games and their schoolwork amid family stress and outside distractions. Arthur's father Bo leaves and is seen dealing drugs not far from the neighborhood playground. A well-meaning scout recommends accepting scholarships to an upscale parochial school with a star basketball team, but the deal carries no security. When he can't keep up his part of the steep tuition, one boy must return to his public school at a distinct disadvantage - the private school won't forward his transcripts until his bill is paid. One of the strongest scenes shows his parents bowing and scraping with the school's financial adviser, begging to get the transcripts released in time to give their son a chance of getting into college.

Financial problems are at the core of every crisis. The Gates family loses 25% of its welfare check when William turns 18, which leads to grim hot dog dinners. An unpaid bill results in the power being turned off. But these are strong families; both mothers are dedicated to helping their boys realize their dreams. Emma Gates polices William's study habits and Sheila Agee's support of her boys is almost physical. When Arthur gives her a beautifully worded birthday letter, the pride on her face is its own reward.

Originally judged an unstoppable player with a perfect attitude, William is sidelined by a knee injury that becomes a momentum killer from which he never fully recovers. Colleges use big promises and free visits to recruit both boys, even though their GPA scores may not be high enough to allow them to go. At one rally, filmmaker Spike Lee advises the athletes to get the best deal they can. "These schools don't care about you, " he warns, "They only care about the games you might win for them. "

Arthur and William become magnets for the 'hoop dreams' of others. Older brother Curtis looks to William to fulfill his own lost athletic potential. Curtis and Arthur's father Bo voice support for the boys but also place heavy burdens on them to succeed. This pressure causes some nail-biting moments, as when William is too emotionally keyed-up to make two crucial free throws at the end of a close game.

Tempering the disappointments is Sheila Agee's joyful graduation from nursing class. We care strongly for these people, both the boys that start as wide-eyed fourteen year-olds and the parents who support them.

Hoop Dreams is compelling viewing. For the first time in movie history, the day-to-day realities of life for an American black family are depicted at length and in depth. The editorial selectivity of the filmmakers fashions a believable documentary narrative, helped greatly by the apparent invisibility of the camera crew. Nobody is caught staring at the lens or grandstanding. This can only come from shooting hundreds of hours of video, until the cameras are no longer noticed. There are gaps when Steve James' narration bridges unseen events; we can assume that cameras weren't welcome during arguments and breakups. When the film ends, one boy has moved on to Marquette and the other to a JC, and both are still hoping their dreams will be fulfilled.

Criterion's disc of Hoop Dreams is formatted at the original 1:33 video ratio instead of the cropped and blown-up 35mm version shown in theaters. The image is always acceptable and the audio clear. Disc producer Abbey Lustgarten has elicited strong contributions from everyone concerned with the film. The filmmakers talk about the production of the show on one commentary track while Arthur Agee and William Gates share a separate discussion.

A fat booklet resembling a high school yearbook includes essays from John Edgar Wideman and Sports Illustrated writer Alexander Wolfe. It also has a 2004 follow-up Washington Post article from Michael Wise and a dedication from the filmmakers that bring the changes in the Agee and Gates families up to date.

There are trailers, a music video and three segments from Siskel and Ebert's review show championing Hoop Dreams and promoting it for the Oscars®.

For more information about Hoop Dreams, visit the Criterion Collection. To order Hoop Dreams, go to TCM Shopping.

by Glenn Erickson

Hoop Dreams on DVD

An enormously popular documentary hit from 1994, Hoop Dreams held audiences spellbound. The almost three hour feature tells the story of two talented basketball hopefuls from Chicago's most dangerous housing projects pursuing a dream of making it as future NBA stars. That means getting on serious high school teams and going "downstate" to compete in high-profile tournament play. Filmmakers Steve James, Frederick Marx and Peter Gilbert followed Arthur Agee and William Gates for five years, documenting every bit of their lives. Two disadvantaged families struggle to stay together while their potential superstar sons make tough decisions in search of their dreams. It's not easy; the system seems to say that escape from the projects is impossible. The boys must stay focused on their games and their schoolwork amid family stress and outside distractions. Arthur's father Bo leaves and is seen dealing drugs not far from the neighborhood playground. A well-meaning scout recommends accepting scholarships to an upscale parochial school with a star basketball team, but the deal carries no security. When he can't keep up his part of the steep tuition, one boy must return to his public school at a distinct disadvantage - the private school won't forward his transcripts until his bill is paid. One of the strongest scenes shows his parents bowing and scraping with the school's financial adviser, begging to get the transcripts released in time to give their son a chance of getting into college. Financial problems are at the core of every crisis. The Gates family loses 25% of its welfare check when William turns 18, which leads to grim hot dog dinners. An unpaid bill results in the power being turned off. But these are strong families; both mothers are dedicated to helping their boys realize their dreams. Emma Gates polices William's study habits and Sheila Agee's support of her boys is almost physical. When Arthur gives her a beautifully worded birthday letter, the pride on her face is its own reward. Originally judged an unstoppable player with a perfect attitude, William is sidelined by a knee injury that becomes a momentum killer from which he never fully recovers. Colleges use big promises and free visits to recruit both boys, even though their GPA scores may not be high enough to allow them to go. At one rally, filmmaker Spike Lee advises the athletes to get the best deal they can. "These schools don't care about you, " he warns, "They only care about the games you might win for them. " Arthur and William become magnets for the 'hoop dreams' of others. Older brother Curtis looks to William to fulfill his own lost athletic potential. Curtis and Arthur's father Bo voice support for the boys but also place heavy burdens on them to succeed. This pressure causes some nail-biting moments, as when William is too emotionally keyed-up to make two crucial free throws at the end of a close game. Tempering the disappointments is Sheila Agee's joyful graduation from nursing class. We care strongly for these people, both the boys that start as wide-eyed fourteen year-olds and the parents who support them. Hoop Dreams is compelling viewing. For the first time in movie history, the day-to-day realities of life for an American black family are depicted at length and in depth. The editorial selectivity of the filmmakers fashions a believable documentary narrative, helped greatly by the apparent invisibility of the camera crew. Nobody is caught staring at the lens or grandstanding. This can only come from shooting hundreds of hours of video, until the cameras are no longer noticed. There are gaps when Steve James' narration bridges unseen events; we can assume that cameras weren't welcome during arguments and breakups. When the film ends, one boy has moved on to Marquette and the other to a JC, and both are still hoping their dreams will be fulfilled. Criterion's disc of Hoop Dreams is formatted at the original 1:33 video ratio instead of the cropped and blown-up 35mm version shown in theaters. The image is always acceptable and the audio clear. Disc producer Abbey Lustgarten has elicited strong contributions from everyone concerned with the film. The filmmakers talk about the production of the show on one commentary track while Arthur Agee and William Gates share a separate discussion. A fat booklet resembling a high school yearbook includes essays from John Edgar Wideman and Sports Illustrated writer Alexander Wolfe. It also has a 2004 follow-up Washington Post article from Michael Wise and a dedication from the filmmakers that bring the changes in the Agee and Gates families up to date. There are trailers, a music video and three segments from Siskel and Ebert's review show championing Hoop Dreams and promoting it for the Oscars®. For more information about Hoop Dreams, visit the Criterion Collection. To order Hoop Dreams, go to TCM Shopping. by Glenn Erickson

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Winner of the 1994 award for Best Documentary from the Boston Society of Film Critics.

Winner of the 1994 award for Best Documentary from the Chicago Film Critics Association.

Winner of the 1994 award for Best Documentary from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

Winner of the 1994 award for Best Documentary from the National Board of Review.

Winner of the 1994 award for Best Documentary from the National Society of Film Critics.

Winner of the 1994 award for Best Documentary from the New York Film Critics Circle.

Winner of the 1994 award for Best Documentary from the Society of Texas Film Critics.

Winner of the Audience Award at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival.

Released in United States Fall October 14, 1994

Released in United States October 19, 1994

Expanded Release in United States October 21, 1994

Expanded Release in United States November 4, 1994

Expanded Release in United States November 11, 1994

Expanded Release in United States November 18, 1994

Expanded Release in United States November 25, 1994

Expanded Release in United States December 2, 1994

Expanded Release in United States December 9, 1994

Expanded Release in United States December 16, 1994

Expanded Release in United States January 20, 1995

Wide Release in United States February 10, 1995

Released in United States on Video April 25, 1995

Released in United States 1994

Released in United States January 1994

Released in United States March 1994

Released in United States September 1994

Released in United States October 1994

Released in United States December 1994

Released in United States June 2003

Released in United States 2014

Shown at New York Film Festival (closing night) September 23 - October 9, 1994.

Shown at San Francisco International Film Festival April 28 - May 12, 1994.

Shown at San Sebastian International Film Festival (Open Zone) September 15-24, 1994.

Shown at Mill Valley Film Festival October 6-16, 1994.

Shown at Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival December 7-15, 1994.

Shown at SILVERDOCS:AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival (Inside Sports) June 18-22, 2003.

Frederick Marx, Steve James and Peter Gilbert received a Special Award of Merit from the Producers Guild of America (1995).

Steve James co-directed, with Fred Marx, a high school basketball documentary "Higher Goals" which aired on PBS on October 11, 1992.

Film was shot for 150 days over a four-and-a-half year period.

Released in United States Fall October 14, 1994

Released in United States October 19, 1994 (Los Angeles)

Expanded Release in United States October 21, 1994

Expanded Release in United States November 4, 1994

Expanded Release in United States November 11, 1994

Expanded Release in United States November 18, 1994

Expanded Release in United States November 25, 1994

Expanded Release in United States December 2, 1994

Expanded Release in United States December 9, 1994

Expanded Release in United States December 16, 1994

Expanded Release in United States January 20, 1995

Wide Release in United States February 10, 1995

Released in United States on Video April 25, 1995

Released in United States 1994 (Shown at New York Film Festival (closing night) September 23 - October 9, 1994.)

Released in United States 1994 (Shown at San Francisco International Film Festival April 28 - May 12, 1994.)

Released in United States January 1994 (Shown at Sundance Film Festival (in competition) in Park City, Utah January 20-30, 1994.)

Released in United States March 1994 (Film was scheduled to receive its world theatrical premiere on March 2nd, 1994, at the Film Forum in New York City, but was withdrawn at the filmmakers' request. Film was also scheduled to be broadcast over PBS during the spring of 1994.)

Released in United States September 1994 (Shown at San Sebastian International Film Festival (Open Zone) September 15-24, 1994.)

Released in United States October 1994 (Shown at Mill Valley Film Festival October 6-16, 1994.)

Released in United States December 1994 (Shown at Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival December 7-15, 1994.)

Released in United States June 2003 (Shown at SILVERDOCS:AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival (Inside Sports) June 18-22, 2003.)

Released in United States 2014 (Sundance Collection)

Steve James was nominated for outstanding directorial achievement by the Directors Guild of America (1994).