SilverDocs 2009: "More Than A Game" Profiles LeBron James And His High School "Fab Five"


Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

This year’s opening night selection for AFI SilverDocs started out as a college assignment for director Kristopher Belman.

A television production major at Loyola Marymount University, he decided to focus a project for his Documentary Production class on his hometown of Akron, OH and a group of basketball players that were quickly gaining attention on the National stage.

“Got me a B+, that was pretty cool,” Belman remarked after the last night’s opening screening.

The group of ballers he decided to film were The Fighting Irish of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, who’s line-up included the  “Fab Five”: Dru Joyce, the small yet spunky son of the team’s coach; Romeo Travis, the loner and newcomer to the longtime clique; Sian Cotton, large and in charge- an athlete in both basketball and football; Willie McGee, a troubled teen who moved from Chicago to find a better life, and of course LeBron James, dubbed “The Chosen One” by Sports Illustrated, his rising profile would make him the superstar of an already talented team.

“More Than A Game” is not just a movie about LeBron James, but it’s about a group of five highly talented high schoolers and their friendship throughout their years as one of the Nation’s best high school teams. Something Belman fought to maintain, “people just wanted to write me a check and buy the all LeBron footage off me- they weren’t interested in having me direct anything or anything other than a highlight reel,” Belman told me in a phone interview this morning. Eventually Belman found backing through music producer Harvey Mason, Jr.


Photo courtesy of Yahoo! Sports

Belman spent seven and a half years working on the project, since first meeting the group in 2002. After Belman graduated college he took on day work and edited the film in his bedroom on a low-end Mac laptop. During all that time he followed the Fab Five’s path from becoming an unrecognizable D-III high school team, to State champions, to the National Championship Game.

What makes “More Than A Game” such a great piece is the well crafted story that Belman carefully put together. The real-life story of the Fab Five sounds like something you would see from a Hollywood script but is told through first-person interviews, news clips, and family photographs and video.


The Fab Five at last night's screening

While there is a challenge to tell a story where the ending is known, Belman manages to keep the audience on it on the edge of their chairs. As one cast member remarked after the screening, “when I was watching it just now, I didn’t even know if we’d win the championship game!” Whether they do or not is something you’ll just have to see for themselves.

Belman’s film making takes us into the behind the scenes of a basketball team that allows us to see raw, unfiltered moments of

emotion. Kristopher told me he managed to build a relationship and comfort level with the group that turned him into an unofficial member of the team, “I think it was the fact I was just college junior… he’s a kid just trying to get a good grade… they always called me cameraman for the first few years- I don’t even think they knew my name.”

The drama and emotion Belman captures builds to a powerful ending that didn’t leave a single eye dry in the theatre- not even mine. “More Than A Game” is truly a film worthy of it’s title. A masterpiece that captures the game of basketball and five boys as they come of age and realize that basketball is more than just a game- it’s the vehicle for a lifelong brotherhood.

More Than A Game
Showing at AFI SilverDocs
Sunday June 21st, 8:30 PM
AFI Silver Theater

1 Comment so far

  1. Daily DC Item: Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown Comes To Washington DC | Washington D.C. Metblogs (pingback) on June 26th, 2009 @ 8:31 am

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