REVIEW: Spirit Game – Pride of a Nation (2017)

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2017, XLrator Media/One Bowl Productions/Kaufmann Media Group/Honeysweet Productions

Directors:
Peter Baxter
Peter Spirer
Producers:
Chris Brewster
Peter Spirer
Writers:
Peter Baxter
Peter Spirer
Cinematography:
Alex Rappoport
Daniel “Buddy” Thomas
Editing:
Joel Rutkowski
Jay Miracle

Cast (as themselves):
Oren Lyons
Rex Lyons
Betty Lyons
Jeremy Thompson
Jerome “Naima” Thompson
Lyle Thompson
Miles Thompson
Tadadaho Sid Hill
Frieda Jacques
Alf Jacques

The story of the Iroquois Nation’s road to respect in the world of lacrosse and as a whole is depicted in this really good documentary from Peter Baxter and Peter Spirer.

The sport of lacrosse traces back to the early days of North America, when the Iroquois founded the sport around 1100 A.D. However, in 1493, Pope Alexander VI declared the future United States open for religious groups to travel there and it would become a massive problem with the Native Americans. This would be known as the Doctrine of Discovery. Nevertheless, the Iroquois still found lacrosse as their way of not just entertainment but as a way of life. They would even begin playing teams from the U.S. and Canada, showing a respect between the two until 1891, when the Iroquois were banned from Canada for being too good at the sport.

In 1983, history was made when the Iroquois rallied to make themselves their own entity in the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL). As respect for the founders of the sport, the Iroquois Nation was given their own team in the FIL. This is the story not only about the history of the sport, but how in 2015, for the first time in history, the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships (WILC) were held in the Onondaga Nation and the hometown heroes’ hopes to win the tournament. They are the Iroquois Nationals.

Lacrosse is a sport that has had its shares of fans, share of perhaps detractors, and those who may not know what the sport is about or its history. This is a great documentary for all of those types as they will get a sense of the history of the sport as well as the struggles in both the past and present that the Iroquois Nation have endured in relation to both history and the sport. Oren Lyons, a legend in the sport, gives the viewer the history of the sport and with his son being one of the first professionals of the sport after the Iroquois became a separate international team in 1983. The viewer also is introduced to the Thompson family, four brothers who are today’s generation of players in the sport with Jeremy being the more well-known of the four. However, to these brothers, it’s not about fame or fortune. To them, lacrosse is clearly not just a way of life, but it is about respect of their history as Native Americans.

The viewer even gets to take a look at how the lacrosse sticks are made within the Nation, with intricate handcarving rather than resorting to manufacturing. The film also looks at the Iroquois Nationals competing in two major tournaments in 2014 and 2015. The latter plays a very important part as for the first time in history, the Onondaga Nation became the home of the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships. This historic event, along with the “joke” of having the incoming nations stamp their passports being an act of respect from most of the other nations (with one exception), clearly shows the level of that respect not only towards the sport, but to the Iroquois Nation as a whole.

Spirit Game: Pride of a Nation is definitely a great look at the world of lacrosse and its credited founders. The level of history and endurance the Iroquois Nation go through is wonderfully depicted and the games themselves bring a level of excitement amongst sports fans. This is one definite watch for all sports fans.

WFG RATING: A

XLrator Media will be releasing this documentary to select theaters on May 26th, followed by a VOD and iTunes release on June 20th.

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