The Heart of the Game

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USA | 2005 | 87 Minutes | Ward Serrill

October 13, 2015

SIFF Cinema Uptown | Big Screen Classics
10th Anniversary, with director Ward Serrill and film subjects in person!
Released in 2005 by Miramax Films to wide critical acclaim, this thrilling and humanistic documentary is a portrait of Seattle's Roosevelt High School girls' basketball team, as their eccentric new coach and troubled star player transformed the struggling team into serious contenders.

When Seattle filmmaker Ward Serrill met Bill Resler, a college tax professor who moonlights as basketball coach for the Roosevelt Roughriders, he didn’t realize that he was about to embark on an incredible seven-year journey. Serrill, camera in hand, followed Resler – who looks more like Santa Claus in Birkenstocks than a whistle-blasting high school coach – into the Roosevelt High School gym and soon discovered a group of girls whose unbridled toughness, passion and energy he came to call "the heart of the game."

Then, one day, onto the Roughriders’ court (and into the film) walked Darnellia Russell – a tough, inner-city girl whose off-court struggles would eventually threaten to crash the star athlete’s plans. But with Coach Resler, her team, and her family standing by her side, she takes on enormous personal obstacles as well as the ruling body of high school sports in Washington State.


“An Oscar level piece of work.” - Ebert and Roeper

“A winner. This film should be required viewing for all teachers, coaches, and school-age kids.” - Claudia Puig, USA Today

“There’s no denying the exuberant energy and emotional force of this movie. It gets to you.” - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“I love this movie. You will too. It tells a compelling, complicated story, introduces vibrant, real-life characters and touches on issues of race and class. ” - People

  • Director: Ward Serrill
  • Country: USA
  • Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 87 Minutes