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SLAYING GOLIATH (60')
GENRE: DOCUMENTARY
DIRECTED BY JOE BREWSTER &
MICHELE STEPHENSON


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Whether it's becoming the next LeBron James or even earning a scholarship to college, sports can be a kid's golden ticket out of a rough neighborhood or a poor school system. But how many kids actually make it to the big time? And what happens when parents and coaches push their young kids hard, some would say too hard?

SLAYING GOLIATH examines the dark side of youth sports and reveals how the allure of professional success affects a group of thirteen families. By filming the journey of a team of ten year old basketball players with their coaches and families on a long bus ride from Harlem, NY to Florida to compete in the year's biggest tournament, we get an up-close and intimate look at the pressures on these children to be their families' ticket to a better life.

Tournaments for ten year olds should be fun and games. For the The New York Select Huskies of Harlem it means so much more. For these kids, the stakes are clearly higher. Their parents and coaches see this tournament as a significant steppingstone in the development of the boys into rich and famous NBA Pro ballers. It could also mean a scholarship to a good college. For these ten year old athletes, the real world has already penetrated their psyches.

In the eye of the storm is enigmatic Coach Steve Harris. Coach Steve has an unorthodox coaching style that may rub people the wrong way. But he says it's all for their own good. Coach Steve grew up without a father and knows that some of these kids don't have father figures in their lives either. For many, he becomes a parent figure as well as a coach. Upon arrival to the national competition in Florida tensions rise to an uncomfortable temperature between the parents, the teammates and the coach, as everyones true colors come to light. The level of pressure becomes difficult to bear and many lessons are learned as the team competes for the title.

Coach Steve warns that "life is war, every day", especially for a kid from Harlem. It's with this attitude that Coach Steve governs his life and his coaching. We know he wants to get "the best out of his kids". Some parents at times appear ambivalent about his methods, while others have obviously thrown themselves and their entire hopes on him alone, desperate for their kids to succeed. We hear their dreams of stardom. Coach Steve hears them too and so do the children.

Through this very intimate journey, SLAYING GOLIATH raises larger societal questions of whether the price our children pay in today's world of amateur sports is worth the illusory end result. By examining parental motivation and the pressures put on children at such a young age, SLAYING GOLIATH goes where no sports documentary has yet ventured.

When Coach Steve is reprimanded by tournament refs and other coaches about his treatment of his young players, his emotions spill over and we see the monumental struggle to "slay Goliath" take its toll.

The film also pushes the audience to take a critical look at how loving families and coaches, knowingly or unknowingly, feed their youngest players into the high stakes world of the sports industrial complex and the impact that the system has on our children's lives and the parents and coaches who so desperately want them to succeed.