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SXSW Q&A: Joshua Seftel captures magical hoops season finale in 'The Home Team'

A new addition to SXSW this year is SXsports, which incorporates film screenings and panel elements, and touches on all aspects of sports through the SXSW lens of culture, media and innovation.

Image from The Home Team
Image from The Home Team
Courtesy of Seftel Productions
The Home Team poster artwork
Seftel Productions

Emmy nominated director Joshua Seftel ("War Inc.") will premiere his film "The Home Team" as part of SXSW's SXsports selections in the Documentary Shorts Competition on Sunday, March 9.

Seftel recently answered a few questions about the film.

Tell us about your documentary short The Home Team.

We're very excited to have the festival premiere of The Home Team at SXSW. The film follows the biggest night of the year in tight-knit, all-American Murray, Kentucky – it's the last home game of the season for the Murray State Racers. Murray is a town so small that half its population fits into its basketball stadium, fans bake cakes for the players’ birthdays and the head coach is engaged to the town’s middle school teacher. We wanted to find out the secret to the team's success, and it turns out it's the town.

How did you get involved in creating this project?

We were asked to make a film about NCAA college basketball by Hill Holiday and the Responsibility Project -- they commission films by independent filmmakers on various topics. So we searched all over the country for a good basketball story, and when we came across Murray, Kentucky and their Racers, we were blown away by the story this place has to tell and we felt like something magical could happen there.

What were the biggest challenges you faced in capturing the story?

The film takes place on the final day of the season for Murray State. So we had to have multiple camera crews (3 crews) all going at once with walkie talkies, hoping not to miss anything and hoping that something amazing would happen in front of our cameras. And it turns out, it did.

Have the Murray State players, coaches and fans seen the completed documentary? What has been their reaction to the film?

They have seen the film. And they seem to really like it. I heard a rumor that they are using the film to recruit new players for the team!

Are you a big NCAA hoops fan? With March Madness coming up, who do you think will win this year's NCAA tournament?

I was never a college basketball fan until I made this film. But I fell in love with Murray and the Murray State Racers. I like the way they do things, and I think Coach Prohm is a genius (NCAA Coach of the Year?). I'm crossing my fingers that they make the big tournament this year (there's a qualifying game tonight). It's hard not to love an underdog.

What project are you working on next?

I'm developing a new feature films to follow up my last feature, War, Inc. And I am making a short documentary about a well-known photographer who has become obsessed with his mortality.

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