Viewed as the underdog candidate, this lovingly crafted depiction of a white volunteer coach’s season with a football team in impoverished North Memphis was the surprise winner of this year’s Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.
Screened as part of NZIFF 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