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Toronto’s Hot Docs Film Festival set to go ‘ROUGE’

Can you see the pride in a panther? Look no further than Toronto’s very own Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival for ‘ROUGE’.

Toronto hot docs film festival set to go rouge
Toronto hot docs film festival set to go rouge

Like an assist from a point guard, basketball documentaries these days are a dime a dozen. Ever since ESPN saved us during the pandemic with their Netflix release of the Windy City, last waltz out the Bullpen.

With that being said, ‘ROUGE‘ is not your average basketball film. Record that down on your scouting report in all-caps.

Set to have its international premiere at Toronto, Canada’s ‘Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival’, ‘ROUGE’ is a real and raw look at history and high school hoops.

BasketballBuzz was given exclusive access to the first-look of the film, which is set to stream its way through court consciousness like a ‘Last Chance U’, ahead of its forthcoming April 28th premiere.

The official synopsis reads as such…

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In the 1950s, legendary high school basketball coach Lofton Greene led the racially integrated River Rouge High School Panthers to a record number of state championships in a league of otherwise segregated schools. Now, almost 70 years later, LaMonta Stone, a former Panther himself, has returned to the struggling industrial town of River Rouge, Michigan, to coach the Panthers as they chase the school’s 15th State Championship. Stone and three of his star student-athletes, including seniors Brent Darby Jr. and Ahmoni Weston, and junior Legend Geeter, strive to fulfill generations worth of work on and off the court by preparing for their next chapter of life.

Rouge trade
‘Rouge Trade’

Our take is that there aren’t many docs that could go one-on-one with this. Sure, it has all the inspirational trappings of just why the game graces all those who give it their all. Yet, there’s so much that lies below the hardwood surface, and all the blood, sweat, tears and cheers that go into the highs and lows of high school hoops.

We all know about Disney’s ‘Glory Road’, and the true story behind that movie that saw an all-black Texas Western College face-off against the University of Kentucky (featuring Pat Riley) in 1966. Winning it all against the legendary Adolph Rupp, before the arena was named after him. But like Texas Western’s Don Haskins, Lofton Green is a legend in leading racially integrated teams to the title.

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Rewriting the history books when it came to state championships in the 1950s. Before the glory, he paved his own road. Standing against segregation that surrounded him when it came to the other schools he competed with in more ways than one.

Now, 70 years later, the struggle is still real. Those same paved roads could help refurbish the gyms that now lay derelict, moving former players and alumni to tears, thinking “what has happened?” One former Panther, LaMonta Stone, has seen enough. Wanting to lead the same team he once suited up for to a 15th state championship.

Adversity. Anxiety. Don’t believe they can do it? Just watch!

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Toronto's hot docs international documentary film festival set to go 'rouge'
Toronto’s hot docs international documentary film festival set to go ‘rouge’

The industrial town of River Rouge in Michigan was built off the backs of hard workers like a Ford factory, and you know they motor on this assembly line. That’s just that Panther power. One that could see their big-three of Brent Darby Jr., Ahmoni Weston and Legend Geeter make the big-leagues like the NBA one day.

How can you bet against a guy who calls himself a Legend like Drake. Government name, simple and plain.

Directed by Mohamed “Hamoody” Jaafar and produced by Razi Jafri for Mulberry Productions. This student athlete programme, in all its compelling court cinematography (provided by Tommy Daguanno and Richie Trimble), looks as much the parquet part as the crowning, maverick achievements from SpringHill Entertainment.

It’s like they said, “In the 60s, if you loved basketball, there were three teams: Boston Celtics, UCLA, and River Rouge … because they were all the best.”

Time to go rouge and find out why.

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