A documentary filmed in a southwestern Jackson County community was shown at more than 30 festivals, garnered a lot of critical acclaim and played on PBS’ “Independent Lens” series.
At the 36th annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards ceremony Sept. 28 in New York, “Medora” could claim another honor, as it is one of five films up for an award in the Outstanding Business and Economic Reporting-Long Form category.
“Medora” follows the Medora High School boys basketball team in the 2010-11 season and their struggles and triumphs on and off the court. It also touches on the challenges of a small town.
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Andrew Cohn and Davy Rothbart spent eight months in the area following the team and capturing film, and the result was an 82-minute documentary.
“I was mostly in shock,” Cohn said of when he learned of the nomination, which was submitted by PBS. “It has been so long since the making of the film, and I really thought we were a long shot for anything like an Emmy. It’s an incredible honor and not something I ever would have imagined when we began filming over four years ago.”
While the recognition is nice, Cohn said, that’s not why they made the film.
“Honestly, I don’t put much stock in those types of things,” he said of awards. “I wanted to make a film that was honest and true to my experience living in Medora, so that has always been my main focus. Anything else is just icing on the cake.”
The nominations for 45 categories were announced at the end of July by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The awards will be handed out at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall on Broadway on the west side of Manhattan.
“I just want everyone who was involved with the film to enjoy themselves,” Cohn said of attending the ceremony. “I’m not much for award ceremonies, but I guess I need to buy a suit now.”
“Medora” will go up against “Fate of a Salesman,” “Ivory Tower,” “To Catch a Trader” and “Big Men.”
The film can be purchased online at medorafilm.com, and it’s also streaming on Netflix.
“I hope it brings awareness to the film,” Cohn said of the Emmy nomination. “And I hope more folks learn about the film and seek it out to watch it.”
Zack Fish and Dylan McSoley were members of the Medora basketball team when the movie was being filmed. Both were excited about the nomination.
“I believe it is deserving because it is relaying news to people who don’t know the struggles that small schools and communities face every day just to stay afloat,” said Fish, who is now 21, lives in Avoca and works at Indiana Limestone in Bloomington.
The news also gave them time to reflect on the filming process.
“The part that I liked about being in the film is to tell my story because I know there are children going through the same as I did, and I hope it would help them,” said McSoley, who is 22, lives in Oolitic and just began working at Indiana Limestone.
“The thing I liked most about being part of the film is just showing that when a friend was in need, they could always count on me or my family to help them out,” Fish added.
Fish said he was happy with how the film turned out.
“I thought the film portrayed the team and town exactly right — as a unit or family that was struggling but always sticks together and never stops fighting the rough times,” he said.
When “Medora” was on the film festival circuit, Cohn often brought the players, former coach Justin Gilbert and former athletics director Dennis Pace along to answer questions at the end of each showing.
Since then, Cohn said, he directed a film for ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, and he’s currently in the middle of editing his next film, “Night School.”
“The film follows three adults from inner-city Indianapolis as they attempt to go back and earn their high school diploma,” said Cohn, whose mother grew up in Indiana.
He said that even though he’s not big on awards he still appreciates the people in Medora and Jackson County for welcoming him into their lives during the filming for “Medora.”
“Although I’m back in New York, I still think about my experience in Medora quite often,” he said. “It was a life-changing experience and one that I look back very fondly upon. Medora will always have a special place in my heart, so if we do win, I will dedicate the award to the people of Medora. They’re the ones who deserve the award. Not me.”
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“Although I’m back in New York, I still think about my experience in Medora quite often. It was a life-changing experience and one that I look back very fondly upon. Medora will always have a special place in my heart, so if we do win, I will dedicate the award to the people of Medora. They’re the ones who deserve the award. Not me.”
Andrew Cohn, co-director of the “Medora” documentary
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Directors: Andrew Cohn and Davy Rothbart
Story: Follows the Medora High School boys basketball team in the 2010-11 season after the Hornets combined for two wins the previous two seasons. It tells the story of the players’ lives on and off of the court and also the struggles of a small town.
Run time: 82 minutes
Recent honor: Nominated for a News and Documentary Emmy Award in the Outstanding Business and Economic Reporting-Long Form category
Where you can see it: Purchase a DVD at medorafilm.com or find the film streaming on Netflix
Information: medorafilm.com, facebook.com/MedoraFilm