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Undefeated – review

Undefeated, directed by Daniel Lindsay & T.J. Martin

RELEASED: August 3

DIRECTED BY: Daniel Lindsay & T.J. Martin

REVIEW: Hugo Wilkinson

This affecting documentary follows an American high school football team struggling their way through to the playoffs – not a new story, except that this team is from one of the most deprived parts of the USA. And if they succeed, some of the players might just have a shot at a better life…

North Memphis is an area blighted by dereliction and unemployment. The local school’s football team, Monasses, hasn’t won a game in over 100 years; in fact, their football programme can only fund itself through richer schools paying to bus the team in and defeat them. The players are young black men drawn mostly from low-income, troubled homes, and their chances of anything other than a life of poverty are slim.

Their extraordinary coach Bill Courtney, however, wants to change this; not just by building a winning team, but by instilling a sense of value, achievement and responsibility into his players. It’s a battle and, at times, his astonishing dedication is all that prevents them from defeat, both on and off the field.
Following three of Monasses’ most promising players, as well as the endless struggles of their coach, this moving, exhilarating film dishes out both inspiration and sadness in equal measures—as well as looking at race and class in America in a sensitive, thought-provoking way. Excellent stuff.

4 stars

 

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