"Hoop Dreams" plus 15

The basketball documentary Hoop Dreams, which was released in 1994, is this year celebrating its 15th anniversary. A couple of new essays available online recognize the milestone, and discuss the film's legacy, including the fact that it is about so much more than just basketball.

Roger Ebert, in his amazingly insightful "Roger Ebert's Journal" (which is often about so much more than just movies), discusses his and the late Gene Siskel's early involvement with the film as cheerleaders who helped the documentary gain first distribution and then an appreciative audience. Ebert recounts the recent Chicago event in which the film's two subjects, William Gates and Arthur Agee, sat on a panel discussion with the filmmakers to talk about the film's impact on their lives.

Ebert provides a link to an older but still incisive essay on the Criterion Collection website by John Edgar Wideman. Wideman, writing from the perspective of an African-American man who fostered some of the same dreams as Gates and Agee, drills just as deeply into the idea that Hoop Dreams is about so much more than basketball, and about how dreams of basketball stardom were about so much more than sports and glory for young people like himself and the stars of this incredible documentary film.