PBS’s Independent Lens will air a new documentary tonight that focuses on Medora, Ind., a small, impoverished town about 40 miles southeast of Bloomington.
The film “Medora” follows the lives of the Medora Hornets varsity basketball players through personal struggles and a losing season. The Hornets are the worst high school basketball team in the state, and that storyline mirrors the struggles the town has faced in recent years.
WFIU’s Claire McInerny spoke with Andrew Cohn, co-director of the film, about why he chose a small town in Indiana as his subject and his experience living in Medora during the filming.
McInerny: Why did you want to do a documentary about Medora, Indiana?
Cohn: About three years ago, my co-director, Davy Rothbart, read an article in the New York Times and this article chronicled this high school basketball team, the Medora Hornets, who are the worst basketball team in the state of Indiana. Davy and I are from the Midwest and huge basketball fans and just thought it would make a great film.
McInerny: Will you explain what Medora is like and what your experience was like while you were living there?
Cohn: Medora is a small town of about 500. At one point, maybe 30, 40, 50 years ago, it was a nice farming community, and since then it has fallen on hard times. In a lot of ways the town is very similar to the basketball team, struggling to compete. At one point there was a brick plant and plastics factory, and since then drugs have moved in and its an impoverished place, but there’s also a great sense of community and there’s also a great sense of pride in the town. So what we wanted to do was follow these kids stories and give the audience a sense of what’s happening in towns like Medora and what it’s like to live there.
McInerny: How were you and your co-director perceived by the town as you came in to tell their story?
Cohn: When we got there people were pretty skeptical. But we lived there for eight months, so we really got to know the kids, and their families and the coaches and really everyone in the town. Once people got to know us we earned their trust by being there every day. I think once they got to know us, especially the kids started to open up to us and a lot of people have said this movie is really intimate and raw and you really get to know these kids and we were able to capture some amazing moments on film.