The Rebound

The Rebound or The Rebound: A Wheelchair Basketball Story is a 2016 sports documentary by first-time filmmaker Shaina Koren Allen following the journey of the Miami Heat Wheels as they are attempting to win their first NWBA (National Wheelchair Basketball Association) Championship.

The movie focuses particularly on three of the team-adaptive athletes, Mario Moran, Jeremie Phenom Thomas, and Orlando Carrillo, as they are all finding ways to live a “normal” life despite their handicaps and making the most of their extraordinary talents. The three men are passionate and determined to go above and beyond to achieve their goals.

Mario is probably the most cheerful and colorful character of this film on the surface. He explains why he is a strong believer in ‘what does not kill you makes you stronger’ as he sheds light on his dark past by telling his very own personal “rebound story,” his second chance at life and how basketball saved him after being involved in a shooting that left him paralyzed.

“…the journey of the Miami Heat Wheels as they are attempting to win their first NWBA (National Wheelchair Basketball Association) Championship.”

Orlando is a very grounded individual, who was also paralyzed after a gunshot accident and is now a fierce advocate for gun control. He dreams to earn an athletic scholarship to become an engineer while continuing to play wheelchair basketball.

Jeremie, unlike other players, was born with conditions that left him unable to walk. As he is independent and an unbelievably talented sportsman, he and his mum do not see him as handicap but as “handicapable.” In addition to shining on the court, he is also an accomplished musician and an aspiring hip-hop artist.

From the first frames, their portrayals challenge our conceptions or misconceptions of what it means to be a wheelchair user, as we see them driving, cooking, studying, taking the train to go to work or to the gym, where they train very hard while exhibiting unfathomable strengths. If we did not know any better we would have thought they were actually preparing for the Olympics, as it is the kind of performances most of us only get exposed to during the Paralympics.

“…will have a strong impact on those easily affected by hopeful and inspiring documentaries with infectious motivational moments…”

The Rebound, through the stories of the team members, anecdotes from the coaches, interviews with established professionals and other adaptive athletes, wants to show viewers that even though their obstacles might be far greater, the struggles of these young men to pursue their dreams are in a way universal. Handicaps or circumstances should not change who you are if you find new perspectives to create opportunities.

And this is also highlighted in the fact that the Miami Heat Wheels itself is facing its own financial challenges, as funding is always an issue for such sport or cultural organizations.

Although The Rebound displayed appreciable techniques, it lacked a clear style and felt unbalanced at times. Nevertheless, its story will have a strong impact on those easily affected by hopeful and inspiring documentaries with infectious motivational moments, a striking take on second chances, dramatic training, and cinematic game montages, but what makes it special is its honest plight to raise awareness while offering a different interpretation of daily life with disabilities and traumas.

The Rebound (2018) Directed by Shaina Koren Allen.

6/10

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