In telling these stories, the film shares interviews from a variety of characters — from the biggest names in the NBA like Paul Pierce and Chris Paul, to the unpaid volunteers for Hoops 4 Hope, a nonprofit that teaches children life skills through sports.
“I feel that projects and people with good intentions attract what they need to make them happen,” Sharp said. “There was a whole lot of knocking on doors that I wasn’t supposed to knock on; there’s a whole lot of conversations with people who probably didn’t expect to have a conversation with me. But ultimately after I found a way to get to them, and after I told them what I was doing, almost at every turn, someone was graciously letting me in the door rather than closing the door on me.”
Mark Crandall, the founder and executive director of Hoops 4 Hope, was also at the Varsity Theatre on Wednesday night. He took part in the panel that ensued after the film.
“Seeing our staff, who work in some of the poorest communities in Zimbabwe day in and day out, and to see them on the big screen, you know, being the superstars that I know they are … it’s cool,” Crandall said.
Sharp, who interned for Crandall in 2013, said he made several concerted efforts to ensure he didn’t impose himself on the communities he covered.
“The beauty of doing documentary work is that you can very literally let the subjects tell their own story,” Sharp said. “So for me, as an interviewer, it was me getting their stories out into a conversation with me so I could share them with others — so that I could very authentically have it be their story and not my interpretation of their own story.”
Sharp said he hired local videographers and aerial photographers on site in South Africa and Zimbabwe and that he worked with multiple music supervisors to help compose the African film’s score.
Sharp’s “best review” of the film, he said, came from a Sudanese refugee who lives in America who watched the film when it aired on NBA TV.
“He invited me to come document his own community and a nonprofit that works with Sudanese refugees in Omaha, Neb.,” Sharp said. “His reason for reaching out to me was because he said that he could tell that I was very delicate and caring for the stories I was telling.”
Panelist LukeBuxton, a sophomore who interned with Hoops 4 Hope this past summer in Zimbabwe, said the film did a great job of showing what Hoops 4 Hope is, and what it does for communities.
“That two hours on the court of happiness, what you saw in there, really shone through in the movie,” Buxton said. “And it did a great job of pulling in that message with ubuntu.”
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