It’s easy to get cynical in a world that’s full of selfish behaviour. People are worshipped in society for achieving nothing in their lives besides a crusade to satisfy their ego with unwarranted fame. Undefeated is a reminder that there are good people doing amazing things in their community and it’s an emotional and inspirational experience.
Documentary filmmakers, Daniel Lindsay and T.J Martin focus on the Manassas Tigers football team, a severely underfunded and underprivileged football team. The team’s coach, Bill Courtney tries to turn the team around as well as the lives of the players.
On the football field the challenges of life are laid out and the players featured in Undefeated are all underprivileged African Americans. To say they are up against it is an understatement. The entire system has crushed them and it’s up to Coach Courtney to sift through the rubble. Courtney is a fascinating character and his approach to life and passion for the team, especially during the hardships, is admirable. The insights into his personal life as a self-made business man and his position of wealth hint that he could be pottering around a yacht with his family rather than wrangling unruly football players. Lindsay & Martin dive deeper into Courtney’s past reveals personal pain that explains his actions.
The documentary also focuses on the lives of three players, the intelligent and sensitive Montrail ‘Money’ Brown, gentle giant O.C Brown and the abrasive Chavis Davis. The individual journey of each player under the guiding hand of Courtney is full of drama and powerful moments. Lindsay and Martin do a good job of being in the right place at the right time to capture phenomenal interactions that could possibly produce a river of tears (for this reviewer it did).
All the football games are shot beautifully and edited to perfection by Lindsay and Martin. All the drama off the field is reflected in the actions on the field and the tension is wound tight and released spectacularly in moments of emotional outpouring. The original music from Michael Brook, Daniel McMahon and Miles Nelson thumps away and gives the film a vibrant energy.
Beneath the surface of Undefeated is a bleak snapshot of America that covers everything from a shabby school system and the wide gap between the rich and poor. The one thing that prevails over all the dreary observations is hope. It’s refreshing to see people like Courtney and the optimism he projects towards life and the flow through effects of that attitude. It presents a quandary to reflect on your own life and how you’ve contributed to help others.
Undefeated is a reminder of the power of good in a world where most people get too caught up in superficial matters. A wonderful documentary that will point life’s purpose in the right direction.
Cameron Williams - follow Cam on Twitter here: @popcornjunkies
Undefeated is showing at the Canberra International Film Festival 14 November 2012
Undefeated is available now on DVD & digital platforms