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Trailer Watch: African Basketball Doc Elevate Echoes Hoop Dreams

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood October 8, 2011 at 1:33AM

Here's the trailer for Anne Buford's Elevate to be released by Variance Films October 21 (NY) and November 4 (LA and expansion). The documentary follows West African teenagers with the height and dreams to play with the big boys in the NBA--but first they have to get a scholarship to study, live and play in the US. With footage spanning four years and two continents, the film echoes Steve James' more in-depth Hoop Dreams. Here's more. The full synopsis is below.
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Here's the trailer for Anne Buford's Elevate to be released by Variance Films October 21 (NY) and November 4 (LA and expansion). The documentary follows West African teenagers with the height and dreams to play with the big boys in the NBA--but first they have to get a scholarship to study, live and play in the US. With footage spanning four years and two continents, the film echoes Steve James' more in-depth Hoop Dreams. Here's more. The full synopsis is below.

SYNOPSIS:

From a basketball academy in West Africa to the high-pressure world of American prep schools, ELEVATE documents the extraordinary personal journeys of four particularly tall West African teenagers with big hearts, open minds, and NBA dreams. The SEEDS Academy in Dakar, Senegal, sits on a small plot of land leased from the government. There, the best young basketball players from across West Africa gather to take part in a strenuous program of academics and athletic training. For those who stand out, the potential reward is huge: full scholarships to the top prep schools in the United States, where the right combination of skill and dedication will earn them a great education, pave the way to college, and open the door to basketball at the NCAA level… and maybe even a shot at the NBA.

For the four young men who make the cut, receive scholarships, and head off to the USA, their lives are changed forever. Filmed over four years and across two continents, ELEVATE documents the daunting challenges they face, from the alienation that comes with being a seven foot tall Muslim at a Christian prep school (in an American culture rife with African stereotypes) to mastering English, adapting to aggressive American-style basketball… and navigating the vagaries of high school, girls, and drivers ed. A heartwarming documentary that inspires without preaching, ELEVATE challenges the audience’s conception of Africa, America, and athletes – while putting a smile on their face at the same time.


This article is related to: Genres, Video, Documentaries, Trailers


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.