Opening Night MVP
Silverdocs kicked off Monday evening with the sports documentary “More Than a Game,” featuring a panel discussion afterwards with the film’s director and subjects — including LeBron James, the 2008-09 NBA Most Valuable Player.
The documentary itself plays as a very good ESPN production: touching in all the right places and flush with solid sports action but just missing transcendence. For all the talk in the movie about how basketball is just a game and that the kids of St. Vincent’s - St. Mary’s High School learned to be men under the guidance of their Coach Dru Joyce, the focus remains squarely on the basketball games.
It would have been interesting to delve into the home lives of the kids. Though we take a brief look at Mr. James’ life in subsidized housing and living with his mother, the family situations for most of the other guys — Romeo Travis, Sian Cotton, and Willie McGee — are ignored almost entirely. The only familial bond that is really examined is that of Coach Dru and his son, Dru Joyce III. It’s almost tossed off that Sian was an All-American football player in addition to the team’s center, Director Kristopher Belman focuses squarely on the Joyces and LeBron.
After the movie, Mr. Belman joked that this project, which has eaten up the last seven years of his life, began as a homework assignment. He received a B+ for the original 10 minute documentary. When asked about the bromance that has grown between the five young men, Romeo Travis responded that “there’s a lot of bad sexual words tied into [male friendships],” though he wouldn’t go into specifics. Still, it’s nice to see five friends remain so close after high school and the pull of professional and collegiate sports. (In addition to Mr. James’s gig with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Mr. Travis and Mr. Joyce III play in Germany, while Sian played football for Ohio State.)
“More Than a Game” screens again Sunday, June 21, at 8:30 at the AFI Silver.