San Francisco Intl Film Festival to host world premiere of 'Q Ball,' doc on San Quentin State Prison basketball team
NBA star Kevin Durant executive produced portrait of inmates "as they search for redemption and transcendence both on and off the court"
The San Francisco International Film Festival is set to unveil a new documentary shot just across the Bay -- at the San Quentin State Penitentiary.
Q Ball, directed by Michael Tolajian and executive produced by Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant, tells the story of players on the prison team "as they search for redemption and transcendence both on and off the court."
In San Quentin—a place where freedom is taken away—basketball gives a little bit back.
The documentary grew out of excursions Durant and his fellow NBA champion Warriors made to the correctional facility in Marin County.
“My first visit to San Quentin with my teammates was an unforgettable experience that moved me and made me want to bring it to a larger audience,” Durant said in a statement. “This film shines a light on these individuals, their struggles and their connection through basketball.”
According to SFFilm, the documentary's subjects include "about-to-be-paroled star player Harry 'ATL' Smith, who has not surrendered his NBA dreams; Anthony 'Ant' Ammons, a lifer who has become a mentor to younger inmates; and head coach Rafael Cuevas, a convicted murderer who understands his role in preparing his players for life on the outside. For all three men, the team is not just a means of recreation, but a form of family."
SFFilm adds Q Ball "closely examines life on the inside, not just for San Quentin’s Warriors, but for all the inmates in a prison that prioritizes the rehabilitation of convicts who will one day finish serving their time and rejoin society."
Q Ball will premiere Thursday, April 11 at 7pm at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. Durant, Tolajian and producer Rebekah Fergusson are among those expected to attend. The 62nd edition of the film festival runs from April 10-23, "at venues across the Bay Area and features nearly 200 films and live events, 14 juried awards with close to $40,000 in cash prizes, and upwards of 100 participating filmmaker guests," per SFFilm.
Noah Cowan serves as the festival's executive director. In a statement, he said of Q Ball, “We are proud to premiere this extraordinary new documentary that takes such a compassionate approach to our incarcerated community. It’s a heartfelt portrait that showcases the real experiences of these men as inmates, their paths to rejoining the outside world as individuals and as a team, and the quite beautiful role of sport in their rehabilitation.”
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.