Documentary-wise, you can't do much better than Steve James' Hoop Dreams (1994, also out through Madman), but somewhere right below that classic are titles like Dogtown, Murderball, and the recently Oscar-nominated Undefeated.
Jason Gorber also adds... If the film was scripted, then it would have checked off every cliche, yet the story unfolds compellingly with the added ring of reality. The highs and lows of the team are felt strongly, the audience drawn to every play and setback for each individual. Driving and emotionally satisfying without ever appearing overtly manipulative or staged, the film is executed with a fine precision and a steady pace.
I was quite fortunate to catch this on DVD after missing it at the Melbourne International Film Festival and could not agree more with my fellow ScreenAnarchistss. Undefeated is a raw and honest, harrowing and life-affirming tale of hopes and dreams. Consisting of interwoven tales of interesting and complex young men, personal angst, problems and the games throughout the year-long season it is a great statement of humanity and strength. Forget the sport, it is only a vehicle that portrays the beautiful human nature of believing and succeeding and the integral role a coach plays in this no matter what the platform.
Undefeated is out now on DVD in Australia from Madman Entertainment.