1. December 12, 2013 at 10:38 pm | permalink

    I attended the showing of “Medora” at the Michigan Theater in downtown Ann Arbor tonight. It’s a brilliant piece of cinema. I don’t think it’s any great insight to observe that it’s less a documentary about high school basketball than it is about a place, and the people who live there. It’s a place in southern Indiana, south of Bloomington and east of Bedford but west of Seymour – a landscape that might be familiar to movie-goers who’ve seen “Breaking Away” or the John Mellencamp film “Falling from Grace.” It is the same general neighborhood where Mellencamp grew up.

    And the landscape shots in “Medora” are exquisite. The farm fields and the dilapidated barns are beautifully filmed. But even more striking are the stills of roads cutting through that desolation or the dynamic shots of the school bus with the basketball team aboard as they wind their way to a game.

    But I am an easy sell for those images, because those roads and that landscape were already familiar to me – and not from some film I’d seen before. I’ve pedaled along those country highways that stretch through those fields and forests, because I grew up not far from there.

    When the U.S. Army recruiter in “Medora” tells one of the high school basketball team members that he’s from a small town, too, and then names Columbus (Indiana) as that small town, my heart practically sang – because that is exactly the place I grew up. But when the Medora High School basketball team travels 35 miles north to play Columbus Christian High School – late in the film and with the Medora Hornets still winless in their season – I recognized how the trajectory of this documentary was setting up: The Medora basketball team could be ending their streak of futility against some boys from my own hometown. So it did not feel exactly right to be pulling for the Hornets. I reconciled rooting against my hometown, reasoning that Columbus Christian wasn’t even my high school – as I attended public school.

    Everybody is from some place. And even if you don’t recognize in “Medora” exactly the place you’re from, you might be a bit richer from knowing something of the place this film is about.

  2. By Bear
    December 13, 2013 at 10:33 am | permalink

    great story, Dave! Thanks for putting it out there!

  3. December 13, 2013 at 10:56 am | permalink

    Wow, that’s a great story, Dave. As you can guess, I’ve seen the film probably 50 times now, and that game is still so emotional (both ways – you can see the stress and anguish on the faces of both coaches, teams, etc.).