Welcome to my choices for the #StayAtHome Film Festival. I chose to focus on documentaries about women and girls fighting against the odds to participate in their chosen sports. As we are all facing changes and restrictions to our life (albeit in our democratic free society of Aotearoa), I thought it appropriate to select films highlighting how women and girls less privileged than us have fought for the same rights we have taken for granted. I hope you enjoy them and celebrate with the participants.
Life Without Basketball
Length: 89 minutes
Directors: Jon Mercer and Tim O’Donnell
This independent documentary premiered in 2018 at DOC NYC and tells the story of the young female Muslim African-American basketball player Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir and her fight for a professional career which was in danger of being derailed, as the wearing of hijab was banned. Her resolve has enabled millions of young women living in Muslim majority countries to play basketball.
Burn the Ships
Length: 88 minutes
Directors: Danielle Miller and Julia Thorndike
As in most other professional sports, women’s professional softball pales in significance to men’s softball when it comes to job security, exposure and funding. Through the eyes of one women’s team, the Akron Racers we see how they go about playing the game they love and their commitment, come what may.
Streetkids United II: The Girls From Rio
Length: 78 minutes
Director: Maria Clara Costa
This 2014 documentary is a follow up to Streetkids United and is about the parallel World Cup for homeless children, played at the same time as the FIFA World Cup. Focussing on the Favela Street Girls, who were chosen to represent Brazil, the film traces the life-changing experience for these girls as they train and become a team.
Length: 90 minutes
Director: Sarah Menzies
Following the young female members of the National Cycling Team in Kabul and a group of young women in rural Bamiyan, this film uses the bicycle to tell a story of women’s rights in Afghanistan. These young women risk their lives every time they go out to train and compete in the sport they love.
Length: 84 minutes
Director: Jon Fitzgerald
This is another well regarded documentary about the Wellfit Girls Challenge where a group of teenage girls from across Florida undergo intensive group training in fitness, interpersonal communication, yoga and social entrepreneurship. The aim is to make these girls who have come from a variety of challenging backgrounds become inspired to become global leaders, and to develop their own unique style of leadership. After the five months is up, they take an 11 day service and adventure trip to Peru. This is well worth viewing and encompasses more than just sport.
Granny’s Got Game
Length: 74 minutes
Director: Angela Alford
The participants face a different challenge than all the other documentaries featured here as the film looks at a year in the life of a senior women’s basketball team in North Carolina as they get ready for another National Senior Games championship. The women are all in their seventies, fighting the obstacles of age to continue playing. They’ve been playing together for over 20 years and transcend just being a team. They are family.
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