The world is a very interesting place right now. Things that we thought were fixed are turning out to have been taped over, and that tape is coming off at an alarming rate. We have found ourselves to be examining our surroundings and asking questions we haven’t even thought of before, ones we never thought we had to. This also has a downside, as we find ourselves making bigger issues out of things that we might need to. With all that confusion and whirlwind about, it’s hard to spot the true heroes making the appropriate waves. In Jeannie Donohoe’s new film, Game, the audience is presented with a simple questions that potentially could topple a well-defined wall.

Game starts at the beginning of basketball season, and the team and new recruits are in the midst of tryouts. Everyone has their strengths, but when the starting point guard is faced with a more talented, and less ego-driven, player, the practice takes a dramatic shift. This quickly becomes a moment of truth, a time for AJ, not only in the realm of the basketball court, but also in questioning natural sports ability.

Shorts aren’t easy to create, at least ones that tell a complete story without compromising on character or situations. Game not only creates a believable world in a controlled time limit, but the story is established from the beginning. You never have any questions that this film is about the basketball ability of a new comer versus the continual star athlete, and this rivalry grows through every drill. Even though you know where the story is going, the ending is not anything what you expect.

The ending of the film makes a point. It’s very staunch and important in it’s point, but it also doesn’t force the audience to convert. These films, the ones that are showing the other side of a discussion are best done when it’s an ease into the opposite view point. What Donahoe is able to do with Game is the start of a conversation that has been around for ages and is most prominent now, the idea of equality. 

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The film brings into question what it means to participate in equality by using the background of a high school basketball team, something most of us can relate to. In bringing an impactful conversation to the forefront through something, quite literally, juvenile, the audience can really weigh the importance of this topic in a large scheme in our society. To be fair, while the film makes an important point through it’s situations, while watching the film you are unaware of the impact. 

The film eases into the world of equality by inhabiting the created world of basketball tryouts. On the surface, the Game is just a film about teens trying out for their high school basketball team, the rivalry between new blood and established royalty, and how the coach and others react to the true nature of players. It’s not until the end that you are forced to look within yourself at what you thought and what you now think. I’m purposefully leaving out what element of equality is addressed because I don’t want to rob the audience of the beautiful reveal. 

We live in a world now where it’s hard to escape a situation alive without battling through opposite viewpoints discussed through heated arguments. Our society is polarizing so many topics, its vital that we participate in this new landscape, but in order to make an impression, it has to be done out of love and not anger. That is exactly what this film is, it’s a passionate discussion on what is important to so many of us, a chance to be seen in our abilities and not through a label. It’s this passion that resinates from the screen, leaving the audience with a feeling of renewed ideas, but ones they formed themselves.

There is no question that this is a paramount topic for Donahoe, and she created a world around it to ignite a dialogue among the populace if they choose to participate. Game is a well crafted exploration into one of the world’s fiery topics, but is done with mindfulness. It’s not about forcing others to see the same way you do, but instead about opening up their heart to a new way of viewing the world. If Donahoe was able to create such a poignant film in the realm of a short, I look forward to seeing what she can accomplish with a feature. 

Written by Lisa Mejia