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“Its triumphs are bittersweet, but they’re irresistible.” — Alison Willmore, Movieline

Year: 2011
Country: USA
Running time: 113 mins

Photography/Editors: Dan Lindsay, T.J. Martin
Producers: Rich Middlemas, Dan Lindsay, Seth Gordon, Ed Cunningham, Glen Zipper
Music: Michael Brook

With: Bill Courtney, Montrail ‘Money’ Brown, Chavis Daniels, O.C. Brown, Mike Ray

Festivals: SXSW, Toronto 2012

Winner, Best Documentary, Academy Awards 2012

Viewed as the underdog candidate up against Herzog and Wenders, this was certainly a surprise winner of this year’s Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. It couldn’t have happened to a more lovingly crafted, heart-tugging tale. Inspired by a news story about O.C. Brown, a black teenage football star struggling to make the grade for a sports scholarship, filmmakers Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin spent a season alongside Bill Courtney, a white volunteer coach determined to lift the performance of O.C.’s high school team in impoverished North Memphis. It’s a testing season but Courtney, who grew up fatherless himself like O.C., is passionately committed to keeping faith with his players. The film takes us deep into his mentoring of O.C. and two of his most talented and unruly teammates. The emotional peaks and troughs are affecting in ways no fiction filmmaker would dare contrive. — BG

“Like all memorable sports documentaries… Undefeated is really an examination not of how games are won and lost but how lives are lived.” — Kenneth Turan, LA Times

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