The iconic 1994 Hoop Dreams remains among the most invoked models for engaging nonfiction fare with The Interrupters (2011) its admirable partner. Hoop Dreams follows Chicago inner city residents Arthur Agee and William Gates for five years, through high school, as they pursue their basketball dreams. The Interrupters watches members of Chicago’s CeaseFire group defusing inherently violent situations.
In these and his other nonfiction films, at momentous junctures James has his camera intimately involved but unobtrusive, a fly on the wall. Without voiceover narration, James puts the viewer in the room or the community and trusts us to listen, to learn, and to think. He chooses well from, typically, hundreds of hours of footage to offer powerful individual portraits and to pinpoint social problems, revealing, never preaching about, them. It won’t be unusual for well-chosen, insightful comments to prompt tears or outrage over unjust situations, but James also appreciates the humor in his subjects’ lives.
A highlight of the weekend is the Saturday, 10 a.m. filmmaking workshop with Steve James, co-sponsored by The Webster Film Series, KDHX, and The Missouri Arts Council. Because space is limited, an RSVP is required.
Screenings are at Webster University’s Winifred Moore auditorium, beginning with Hoop Dreams at 7:00 p.m., Thursday, April 26th, followed by The Interrupters at 7:30 Friday, April 27th, No Crossover: the Trial of Allen Iverson 7:30 Saturday, April 28th with James present for a Q&A after the screening, and At the Death House Door 7:30 Sunday, April 29th. The Filmmaking Workshop with Steve James begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 28th at Webster University’s Winifred Moore auditorium. For information and the current schedule, you may call 314-968-7487 or go to the web at: Webster.edu/filmseries.