FILM: “Ballin’ at the Graveyard”
The title “Ballin’ at the Graveyard” might be a bit misleading. This is not a film about cemetery sex.
Ballin’, in this case, means playing basketball. And the Graveyard is the nickname for the b-ball courts on Madison Avenue in Albany’s Washington Park.
And this brand of basketball isn’t about the above-the-rim heroics of the NBA, the Olympics or college ball. No, this is urban pick-up playground basketball – hard-nosed, physical and brimming over with in-the-paint pushing, shoving and more. There are no referees. And the winner of an on-court dispute is often the player who can simply hold his ground the longest. These are weekend warriors with an emphasis on war.
“Comedy, action, drama – you got that all in one movie,” says Jarming White in the film. And indeed in “[email protected],” pick-up basketball is its own mano-a-mano microcosm of emotions, exploring the on-court skills – the art of picking your team mates, the tactics of colorful trash-talk, the ritual of earning respect – that resonate far beyond the 3-point line.
In fact, in the end “[email protected]” – directed and produced by filmmakers Basil Anastassiou (who is also one of the featured athletes in the film) and Paul Kentoffio, and co-produced by Keith Pickard – isn’t really merely a basketball movie at all. Rather, it’s basketball as a metaphor for life, as the movie gradually broadens its scope and shifts its focus the the off-court, every-day lives of the b-ballers, revealing the dreams and disappointments, the hope and heart of the players who battle it out in Washington Park each weekend.
“Ballin’ at the Graveyard” has been playing at the Spectrum 8 Theatres in Albany for three weeks now – an extraordinary run for a locally produced film that’s competing for precious screen time in the heat of the summer blockbuster season. But Thursday (August 9) is slated to be the final day of the run at the Spectrum. So if you’ve been meaning to see “[email protected]” but just haven’t got around to it yet, now is the time to buy a ticket and settle in for an exciting 90 minutes of comedy, action and drama all rolled into one impressive and exciting homegrown film.