This documentary follows six seasons of the Roosevelt Roughriders girls’ basketball team. Initially, the focus was going to be the work of their unorthodox coach, economics teacher Bill Resler. What he did is interesting in and of itself, turning the team into a real force to be reckoned with. But then into this middle-class, largely white setting comes Darnellia Russell, inner city girl with inner city problems, and colossal talent. The film follows her integration into the team, and when p…egnancy forces her to leave the team for a season, the story becomes her legal battle against the basketball association to be allowed to rejoin. There may be a few too many subjects here for any of them to be fully dealt with, but the result is undeniably compelling viewing.
5.1 hardly seems necessary for a documentary film, but here it is all the same, and doing a fair job, it must be said. The score is very active in the surround department, though once it shifts to background music, it is largely kept to the rear speakers. The sound is crisp and clean, and generally is a strong track, without seriously breaking any vérité conventions.
The picture is, perhaps unavoidably, less technically impressive than the sound. Not that there’s anything wrong with it. There are some scenes that are notably softer than others, but this has less to do with the transfer, and more to do with the limitations of the actual filming process. Director Ward Serrill couldn’t exactly get an IMAX camera down to the gym floor, now could he?
Serrill’s commentary track is extremely detailed, and he carries on the job on the optional commentary that accompanies the 12 deleted scenes. There’s a making-of featurette (nothing drastically out of the ordinary here). Selecting “Beyond The Heart of the Game” takes one to more interviews. In addition to more time with Resler and his daughters, and Darnellia and her family, narrator Ludacris is also interviewed. There’s a handy “What Happened To…?” feature to fill us in on what happened after the film (not all stories are concluded when the film ends), and there’s footage of the Q&A sessions during the film’s tour. As ever, there are also some trailers persent.
Though comparisons to Hoop Dreams will be inevitable, this doc is worth catching in its own right.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary
- Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
- Making-of Featurette
- Bonus Interviews
- “On the Road with The Heart of the Game” Featurette