3 Documentaries to Watch Right Now

I have stated before that documentaries are my jam. There is something about seeing the human spirit prevail or enlighten the world around them that gives me hope for the future. While I do admit I did not watch many documentaries when I was younger, I appreciate them more now and try to watch as many as I can. There are a few that I recommend that are out now and will be out later this week. Check them out below.

THE LEAGUE – Now Available Digitally on Demand

As a Chicagoan, I always love finding out how Chicago is connected to certain aspects of history. In The League, we learn a little about how Chicago played a part in the creation of the Negro National League. Andrew “Rube” Foster is considered the “Father of Black Baseball” and is buried in the Lincoln Cemetery in Blue Island.

The League shows us how baseball changed after Plessi vs Ferguson. The creation of the Negro Baseball League helped many players that would not have had a chance in Major League Baseball. Through this league, we were given superstars like Satchel Paige, Buck O’Neil, Hank Arron, and Willie Mays. Although they had their league, there were a lot of obstacles they had to face when playing their games. Many times hotels would not let the players stay in the rooms so they would have to sleep on the bus, in their cars, or even in the stadiums where they were playing.

If you are a sports fan, this documentary will have plenty for you but it also will show you the many difficulties of being a player in the Negro Baseball League. While there were drawbacks, the Negro Baseball League helped build communities and neighborhoods for the black community. It was a common sight to see members of the community go straight from church to a ball game on Sunday afternoons. The style of the documentary mixes actual photos with an animated style to show recreations of events.

The League is a documentary that every fan of baseball should watch and have discussions as to why all of these players should be celebrated.

Rube Foster (center) while managing the 1916 Chicago American Giants, from THE LEAGUE, a Magnolia Pictures release. ©Hake’s Auction. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Sam Pollard (MLK/FBI), executive produced by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson (Oscar-winning SUMMER OF SOUL), Tariq Trotter (DESCENDANT), and produced by RadicalMedia, THE LEAGUE celebrates the dynamic journey of Negro League Baseball’s triumphs and challenges through the first half of the twentieth century. The story is told through previously unearthed archival footage and never-before-seen interviews with legendary players like Satchel Paige and Buck O’Neil—whose early careers paved the way for the Jackie Robinson era—as well as celebrated Hall of Famers Willy Mays and Hank Aaron, who started out in the Negro Leagues. 

From entrepreneurial titans Cumberland Posey and Gus Greenlee, whose intense rivalry fueled the rise of two of the best baseball teams ever to play the game, to Effa Manley, the activist owner of the Newark Eagles and the only woman ever admitted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, THE LEAGUE explores Black baseball as an economic and social pillar of Black communities and a stage for some of the greatest athletes to ever play the game, while also examining the unintended consequences of integration.

ODD HOURS, NO PAY, COOL HAT – AVAILABLE DIGITALLY ON JULY 27TH

Odd Hours, No Pay, Cool Hat is a fascinating look at the volunteer firefighters throughout the United States. In this documentary, you see everyday people sign up for a dangerous job just to help their community. It really is inspirational to see how people volunteer for a training camp to learn everything that paid firefighters do. Some of the stories of these volunteer firefighters are very inspirational. The story of the Hernandez family is one that sticks with me and I hope people check out this documentary to hear their story.

This documentary is one that you should watch because it lets you know that there are opportunities out there for people to help out in their communities. The age range of the volunteers is also incredible to learn. The youngest volunteer is 18 and the oldest is a retiree who walked into a fire station asking for a desk job and walked out an EMT. After watching Odd Hours, No Pay, Cool Hat you will want to look to see if there are volunteer opportunities near you. Check out my interview with one of the directors of the documentary, Cameron Zohoori as we talk about the importance of volunteers and helping your community.

Visit www.oddhoursfilm.com to learn more about the film, where to watch it, and how to volunteer in your area.

Odd Hours, No Pay, Cool Hat” is inspired by an original story by Peter Yoakum and takes audiences behind the lines of America’s volunteer fire service community. The film is truly a tribute to the nearly 700,000 volunteer firefighters around the country – highlighting their selfless bravery, compassion, motivation, and unfaltering sense of community. The film is presented by John Deere in association with the National Volunteer Fire Council, Hold Fast Features,  and Vignette.“Odd Hours, No Pay, Cool Hat” is both a non AMPTP project and distributor, the film is a complete independent.

STEPHEN CURRY: UNDERRATED – Now playing on AppleTV

Imagine going to the NBA and your scouting report states that “He lacks great height, length or strength, and possesses below-average lateral quickness, making him a defensive liability”. Hearing this you would think the player they were talking about did not succeed in the NBA. They probably played a few seasons and then they were done. This player that seemed so ill-equipped for the NBA is none other than Stephen Curry. The 4 time NBA Champion surpassed many obstacles in his career to get where he is today.

In Stephen Curry: Underrated, we see all of the challenges that Stephen Curry goes through to become the player that we all know today. From training for hours with his father, Dell Curry, to being recruited to Davidson College, we are shown the tenacity of Curry. The documentary jumps back and forth from his early days playing at Davidson to some of his key games in the NBA. The documentary is very inspirational in showing us that while others might not believe in what you can do, you can accomplish anything if you work hard and believe in yourself.

Stephen Curry: Underrated will motivate everyone to be their best selves no matter who they are.

The remarkable coming-of-age story of one of the most influential, dynamic and unexpected players in
the history of basketball: Stephen Curry. This feature documentary — blending intimate cinéma vérité,
archival footage and on camera interviews — documents Curry’s rise from an undersized college player
at a small town Division I college to a four-time NBA champion, building one of the most dominant
sports dynasties in the world.

Stephen Curry: Underrated” is directed by Peter Nicks. The film is produced by Peter Nicks and Ryan Coogler through Proximity Media, Erick Peyton through Curry’s Unanimous Media and Sean Havey, Ben Cotner and Marissa Torres Ericson. Sev Ohanian, Zinzi Coogler and Emily Osborne are executive producing.

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