[28 July 2011]
PopMatters Film and TV Editor
The Answer—Allen Iverson—has always provoked questions. Steve James’ documentary, No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson, revisits some of these, beginning with a look back at the trial held in Hampton, Virginia, where the “high school phenom” then lived. The filmmaker also grew up in Hampton, and his father B.J., an avid local sports fan, drew his attention to Iverson, whose trial commenced while James was living in Chicago. In the film the trial is at once specific, concerning Iverson’s involvement in a fight at a local bowling alley on Valentine’s Day, 1993. Charged with “maiming by mob,” Iverson and some classmates became vehicles for a harrowing exposure of the town’s racial divisions. In the film, James sorts through legal and political intersections, talking with community members, lawyers, protestors, and sports writers, as well as his own mother. James himself becomes an interview subject, when his black camera operator Keith Walker asks about his relationship to Hampton’s racist history. The film is at once attentive to that history and relentlessly metaphorical, reminding everybody of what they know and what they’d like to forget.
No Crossover kicks off the Steve James Master Class on 28 July at Maysles Cinema.