Here’s the trailer for Anne Buford’s Elevate to be released by Variance Films October 21 (NY) and November 4 (LA and expansion). The documentary follows West African teenagers with the height and dreams to play with the big boys in the NBA–but first they have to get a scholarship to study, live and play in the US. With footage spanning four years and two continents, the film echoes Steve James’ more in-depth Hoop Dreams. Here’s more. The full synopsis is below.
From a basketball academy in West Africa to the high-pressure world of American prep schools, ELEVATE documents the extraordinary personal journeys of four particularly tall West African teenagers with big hearts, open minds, and NBA dreams. The SEEDS Academy in Dakar, Senegal, sits on a small plot of land leased from the government. There, the best young basketball players from across West Africa gather to take part in a strenuous program of academics and athletic training. For those who stand out, the potential reward is huge: full scholarships to the top prep schools in the United States, where the right combination of skill and dedication will earn them a great education, pave the way to college, and open the door to basketball at the NCAA level… and maybe even a shot at the NBA.
For the four young men who make the cut, receive scholarships, and head off to the USA, their lives are changed forever. Filmed over four years and across two continents, ELEVATE documents the daunting challenges they face, from the alienation that comes with being a seven foot tall Muslim at a Christian prep school (in an American culture rife with African stereotypes) to mastering English, adapting to aggressive American-style basketball… and navigating the vagaries of high school, girls, and drivers ed. A heartwarming documentary that inspires without preaching, ELEVATE challenges the audience’s conception of Africa, America, and athletes – while putting a smile on their face at the same time.