MedoraDirected by Andrew Cohn and Davy Rothbart

The small town of Medora, Indiana is a town going through hard times with seemingly no end or shred of hope in sight.  Sadly, their high school basketball team is no exception.  Make no mistake, even though their team plays in the state of Indiana, this is not Hoosiers.    This is not a team trying to make a run for the state championship but instead a team getting by on small victories wherever they can find them.

Medora delivers a depressing, but honest, portrayal of a basketball team desperately searching for hope on and off the court.

The Medora High Hornets basketball team have had a hard time competing for long time.  Unlike most of the other high schools in the state, Medora has resisted the temptation to consolidate but not without a price.  With a high school population of only 72 students (33 boys) their talent pool is naturally very limited.  As a result, wins come very few and far between, and from the opening scene, it becomes tragically clear that their 2010-11 season is going to be no different as the coach berates them for failing to score a single point in the 4th quarter in a particularly difficult game.

As tough a time as the team is having on the court, things don’t appear to be any easier for them off of it.  The film focuses on several team members including Rusty, who reluctantly moves back in with his mom who is a recovering alcoholic; Chaz, a kid with a reputation for being a screw-up with a juvie record to go with it; Dylan, who is debating over whether or not to contact his father whom he has never met; Logan, who after seeing limited options after high school considers joining the army; and Robby, who has aspirations for college despite living with a learning disability.

Sadly though, their plights don’t appear to be that much different from the rest of Medora.  The once thriving town is now going through a depression after the local plastic factory and brick plants have both shut down and the majority of the town’s employment and economy along with it.  A local woman probably best sums it up when she is asked how to describe Medora to someone who had never been there before and she simply replies “Closed.”  All over town there are abandoned buildings and old stores with boarded up windows.  According to another local, the only thing keeping the town from closing altogether is the high school.

However, despite all they have going against them they still manage to hold on to glimmers of hope.  When things occasionally do go their way, it is a victory they are all too happy to savor.  Whether it’s graduating from high school, going to their senior prom, or finally getting that elusive win, these are small victories that keep them believing that just maybe something better will come.  Halfway through the movie I couldn’t help but think this was one of the most depressing movies I had ever seen, but as it went on, I found myself smiling a little bit when some good things finally started happening for them.

Medora is not your typical sports documentary and it is probably all the better for it.  It’s about more than just a basketball team but also the town they represent when they take the court.  Growing up in small town, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t some moments that hit a little close to home.  Medora, Indiana is a town whose glory days have long since come and gone but their refusal to give up is refreshing to see even if at certain times it may feel futile.