Film / TV

‘moonlight’ screenwriter tackles nba exploitation

February 12, 2019

High Flying Bird is the new feature film by Moonlight screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney and directed by Steven Soderbergh starring André Holland and Melvin Gregg. A slick NBA drama shot on an iPhone (no, it’s not a gimmick), Soderbergh places us in the point of view of an NBA first-round pick, his agent, and his former assistant “as they traversed the glass world of Manhattan’s West Side and the power brokers who control the game.”

Despite the fact that the film is about basketball, it apparently features little-to-no scenes of actual playing. Instead, the story predominately focuses on labor union negotiations, exploration of athletes, broadcast rights and the internal politics within a sports agency as two young Black men compete on the court and in the white corporate world. It is through the perspective of Gregg’s character, Erick Scott, that we explore the capitalistic gatekeeping of sports at this level and the exploitation of Black bodies for entertainment.

“And so one of the ideas that came out was for a television show talking about young people who are deemed gifted or talented — and then afforded this opportunity to ‘get out’ and what that kind of experience can do to a person who has to then every day get on a bus and become almost a different person at school and then come home,” McCraney said.

Comparing his upcoming OWN series, David Makes Man and High Flying Bird: “If you’re rewarded, if you move on to become Eric Holder or the next whoever outside of that community, the system implicates you, [and] you can’t go back and advocate for that community in a lot of ways.”