Medora, Indiana is a once-booming community beset by a crippled economy and a dwindling population. This documentary follows the town's varsity basketball team over a season — as the team's struggle to compete parallels the town's fight for survival.
In Indiana, where life revolves around high school basketball, what happens to a community when their beloved team can no longer win a single game? "Medora" follows the down-but-not-out Medora Hornets varsity basketball team over the course of the 2011 season, capturing their stories both on and off the court. Riding a brutal losing streak when the film begins, the team’s struggle to compete bears eerie resemblance to the town’s fight for survival. An in-depth, deeply personal look at small town life, Medora is also a thrilling, underdog basketball story and an inspiring tale of a community refusing to give up hope despite the brutal odds stacked against them.
The filmmakers traveled to the tiny town after reading a 2009 New York Times story about the struggles of the basketball team. The next fall, with the blessing of Medora High School and the local community, Cohn and Rothbart began to document a year in the life of some of the players and coaches. The Hornets three coaches are all volunteers who hold down full-time jobs as a cop, a preacher and a stonecutter. Rusty Rogers, the six-foot, five-inch center, is virtually homeless due to his mother’s problems with alcohol, and lives with point guard Zach Fish in public housing. Shooting guard Dylan McSoley wonders whether he should reach out to his dad, a man he’s never met who lives in the next town over. Robby Armstrong, a farmer’s son, wants to be the first in his family to complete high school, while Chaz Cowles, arrested on a gun charge, does his best to stay out of trouble with the law.
Ultimately, "Medora" is a film about America, and the thousands of small towns across the country facing the same fight. As one resident observes, “Once we lose these small towns, we can’t get them back.”
Coffee and Conversation is free and open to the public. Each film screening at Lincoln's Mary Riepma Ross Theatre is followed by a community discussion in UNL’s Van Brunt Visitors Center.