New Documentary: The Heart of the Game

Posted by: Michael
The Heart of the Game Movie Poster Click for Fullsize ImageSeven years in the making, THE HEART OF THE GAME captures the passion and energy of a high school girls’ basketball team and tells the incredible true story of one player’s fight to play the game she loves.
Directed by Seattle-based filmmaker Ward Serrill and narrated by Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, this in-depth documentary not only illustrates the hard-charging energy and excitement of the game, but also captures the fiercely competitive and extraordinary spirit of a winning team.
Coach Bill Resler is a tax professor at the University of Washington (with three daughters) when he applies for the job as girls’ basketball coach at Roosevelt High. Although his coaching experience is minimal, he has a philosophy that disciplined training and healthy aggression will play a key role in turning an average team into champions. Using metaphors and themes to inspire the girls each year, Coach Resler encourages them to think and act like a "pride of lions," a "tropical storm" and a "pack of wolves" – all to communicate the mindset required of a championship team. He invents an "inner circle" that is free of parents and authority figures in which the girls can work through problems on their own. And at the start of every season, he makes them run…and run… and run…training them to outlast the competition. 
"It’s not about winning and losing," suggests Coach Resler,  "but about how hard you tried, how you overcome obstacles emotionally, how you rely on other girls and how they rely on you."          Sitting courtside at a Roughrider’s home game is 96-year-old Maude Lepley, who coached girls’ basketball in the 1920s. Serrill illustrates just how far women have come when he spotlights Joyce Walker, a former professional player who returns to Seattle to coach the Roosevelt Roughrider’s biggest foe – the Garfield Bulldogs.             
As THE HEART OF THE GAME follows Bill Resler’s journey, it also tracks the personal stories of several individual players.  Among the girls who benefit from Resler’s shrewd coaching, his communication and his encouragement are girls like Devon, an impassioned but insecure player who hides a painful secret from friends, teammates and coaches for years before drawing on the courage she learned as a Roughrider to step forward and fight for justice; and Lindsey, the best point guard in the state of Washington who goes on to play professionally in Europe.   But when Darnellia Russell, a young African-American from a neighborhood across town, walks on the mostly-white Roosevelt court – both Russell and Resler will be changed forever. A phenomenal talent with WNBA potential, she develops into one of the very best players in the state. To Serrill, the arrival of Darnellia ignited his film.
 "I told her, 'I've been waiting for you,' " he recalls.  "Here's this edge and attitude and really kind of a quiet, silent defiance to her, and God-given extraordinary basketball skills." "When Darnellia was a freshman, she wasn't really into being a team player," said Resler.  "She was a marvelous, gifted athlete, but not about the team. That's what she learned at Roosevelt. She became the consummate team player." In her junior year, Darnellia is faced with a challenge that could put both her basketball and academic future in jeopardy. Both her teammates and her coach must decide whether to support her desire to continue playing, even after she’s ruled ineligible by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA), the state’s governing sports organization.
Miramax Films presents a Woody Creek Production in association with Flying Spot THE HEART OF THE GAME, written and directed by Ward Serrill and produced by Ward Serrill and Liz Manne.  Larry Estes is the executive producer.  Narrated by multi-platinum Grammy® Award-winning artist and actor Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, the music supervisor is Susan Jacobs, the composer is The Angel and the sound design is by Bad Animals.  The film is edited by Eric Frith and the director of photography is Ward Serrill. 


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