Allen Iverson documentary premiers this week | Will it “keep it real” or BS us?
“He’s a rebel with a cause, and the cause is Allen.” – Tom Brokaw
No athlete in the past 20 years has been associated with the phrase “keeping it real” more than the rebel that is Allen Iverson. Countless articles, interviews, books and even movies about the controversial game changer that changed the culture of the NBA has been made to show Iverson in one light or another. Some focused more on the unstoppable and undersized player on the NBA court while others focused more on the legal problems and off-the-court drama that plagued Iverson before and after his days on the NBA court.
Today is April 24th of 2014. Almost 4 years since his shot in a NBA game, 3 years since his stint in Turkey, 6 months since he announced his retirement, 2 months since his jersey retirement ceremony and 3 days away from the Tribeca Film Festival premier of “Iverson” – a new documentary about Allen Iverson made by director Zatella Beatty.
When I heard about the documentary, the first thing I thought about was what they planned on covering that the 2002 Allen Iverson Documentary “The Answer” and the great ESPN 30 for 30 film “No Crossover: The Trial of allen Iverson” by Steve James didn’t. I can’t imagine them offering any basketball footage that hasn’t surfaced on Pennyccwai’s YouTube channel but even if it did, a highlight filled film isn’t going to generate any buzz at a film festival. I thought maybe it could cover the early years and drama that the book “Only the Strong Survive: The Odyssey of Allen Iverson” covered so well. Maybe they would address all the financial and relationship issues and rumors of the past couple of years.
Then I heard that much of this film is “Iverson’s story in his own words.” Like the very fascinating 2008 documentary “Tyson” by James Toback, the problem with documentaries like these, that are supposed to “keep it real,” is that they often struggle to convince us that it’s 100% factual and often turn into biased, borderline fictional filmmaking as the filmmakers and their subject create an unchallenged story and find selected and edited footage and soundbytes to support their story.
There’s a famous saying in filmmaking that “every cut is a lie” but we “tell a lie in order to tell the truth.”
Then the question is “how can a film containing thousands of cuts claim to be anywhere near the truth.” Well, hopefully the new film about The Answer gives us an answer.
ESPN 30 for 30: No Crossover (Full)
Allen Iverson: The Answer Documentary (Full)
ESPN Sports Century: Iverson (Full)