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Sundance Institute Honors Roger Ebert and Filmmaker Ryan Coogler

From the Sundance Institute:

Los Angeles, CA — Last night, Wednesday, June 5, the third annual ‘Celebrate Sundance Institute’ benefit in Los Angeles honored the life and work of beloved journalist and film critic Roger Ebert with the Vanguard Leadership Award in Memoriam. The event also honored filmmaker Ryan Coogler – whose debut feature film, Fruitvale Station, was selected for Sundance Institute's Screenwriters Lab and went on to win both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival – with the Vanguard Award, Presented by Tiffany & Co.

Far Flungers

A Guidebook to People Power

Streaming on Netflix Instant.

Do we teach our young people to dream in the way we used to dream? I feel a sadness as I look at the long faces of so many undergrads. In their expressions, there is a resignation towards, rather, a skepticism of, rather, a fear of the murky future. Have we lost the motivation, passion and, yes, romance of our counterparts from the 1960s, believing that with enough determination we could change the world into a better place?

Watching Mark Kitchell's "Berkeley in the Sixties," (1990) I'm thinking the contrary, that maybe things have not changed. We might look at the activism of the 1960s with nostalgia, thinking that the activists knew exactly what they were doing, but we see that the participants were discovering the process as it unfolded before them. In any case, this is one of the great documentaries of American dissent.

May contain spoilers

Roger Ebert

The great American documentary

Today, fifteen years after I first saw it, I believe "Hoop Dreams" is the great American documentary. No other documentary has ever touched me more deeply. It was relevant then, and today, as inner city neighborhoods sink deeper into the despair of children murdering children, it is more relevant. It tells the stories of two 14-year-olds, Arthur Agee and William Gates, how they dreamed of stardom in the NBA, and how basketball changed their lives. Basketball, and this film.

Photo copyright by Roka Walsh. Used with permission

"Hoop Dreams" observed its 15th anniversary Wednesday night at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Agee and Gates were both there. Gates, now a minister, observed that in one period of time he buried 20 victims of gang violence, 16 of them under 16. Agee said when he looks at his friends in the film today, "ten of them are no longer with us." Yet there they sat, men of around 40 now, articulate, thoughtful, and spoke about how their lives began to change on a Chicago playground 22 years ago when a movie camera showed up.

"We started out to make a little 30-minute documentary about a kid who had basketball dreams," Steve James, the director of the film, said Wednesday night. This was at a benefit for Kartemquin Films, the 40-year-old Chicago documentary group that produced the film.