The recent Disney film "Million Dollar Arm" dealt with the real life story of a sports agent who decides to find talented kids in India to turn them into financially successful baseball stars. On the other hand, in Mirra Bank's documentary "The Only Real Game," the quintessential American pastime in Manipur, northeastern India, represents hope. The game represents an escape from poverty, civil war, drug trafficking, and HIV/AIDS.
"The Only Real Game" will have a one week run from June 20-26, 2014 at the Laemmle’s Music Hall 3 in Beverly Hills, CA
Here is what some renowned outlets had to say about the film
The Village Voice
By Daphne Howland
In "The Only Real Game," Mirra Bank shines a spotlight onto a nearly forgotten place, Manipur, a poor and war-torn state under martial law in northeast
In an area of the world where soccer and cricket reign, Manipuris were first captivated by baseball in the 1940s, as played by the American pilots who used
their kingdom as a strategic spot to stock and launch their planes, and they remain amazingly dedicated to it.
This film contains just enough facts, figures, and footage to give us Manipur’s history and a vivid picture of its current dire situation. But Bank’s story of the women, men, and children so passionate about their game is itself wholly absorbing. The women, in particular, are especially ardent about baseball, as skilled at this game as they are at protecting their children and themselves from disease and insurgent soldier-thugs.
A bunch of American baseball fans get wind of the makeshift innings being played there and raise enough money to bring in regulation balls and bats, and, best of all, gung-ho Major League Baseball coaches.
Sometimes the Manipuris put too much stock in baseball, like so many dirt-poor dreamers do; there’s a lot of heartache. But mostly, they play for love, and this film is like another work in the canon of baseball poetry.
New York Post
By Reed Tucker
While Jon Hamm is busy looking for Indian baseball players in “Million Dollar Arm,” filmmaker Mirra Bank has already found them.
They’re in Manipur, a remote state in northeast India.
As the new documentary “The Only Real Game” details, American baseball has taken hold in this small area of a country that’s largely dominated by cricket.
Despite Babe Ruth calling baseball “the only real game in the world,” it doesn’t exactly blanket the globe. The sport was likely introduced in Manipur by American soldiers stationed there during World War II. Today, the state’s capital city, Imphal, has more than 20 clubs.
“It gives people a sense of joy and solace and relief that’s very powerful,” Bank says. And Manipur is a region in need of relief.
For centuries, it remained an independent kingdom before finally being folded into India in 1949. Many residents still desire independence, and a violent civil war has been raging since the 1980s.
“This is such a staunch and amazing people under ridiculous forms of government that rise up somehow because of the human spirit,” says Melissa Leo, the Oscar-winning actress who narrates the documentary. “It’s remarkable that when people are oppressed, if there’s the tiniest escape hatch, a crack — even the simple, funny old game of baseball — people will slip through that crack.”
One organization that’s well aware of what’s going on in Manipur is Major League Baseball. It’s sent coaches and set up camps to further the sport’s programs. As Hamm discovered in “Million Dollar Arm,” India is too big a potential market to ignore.