“Head Games” is an eye-opener. It’s a film that teaches while it essentially terrifies. I have two young boys, and when they express interest in playing sports, it will be impossible not to remember what I learned from this film.
More of a specialty item than one might expect from Steve James, the Oak Park–based director of doc epics Hoop Dreams and The Interrupters, Head Games should nevertheless be mandatory viewing for athletes of all ages.
James structures the movie around a kids’ football game, positioned as David vs. Goliath to ponder the notion of an opponent that cannot be beaten. The movie acknowledges the fallibility of athletes we might not want to recognize, and the seemingly obvious danger of repeated bashings to the head that have become an accepted dimension of sports with risks we’re still working to understand. “Head Games” asserts this as a problem that isn’t going away and, especially for those who suffer from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is virtually guaranteed to get worse.
If you’re a football player, hockey player or you participate in full contact sports, this is a documentary you should check out.
The documentary by Steve James paints a devastating picture of the long-term consequences of head injuries among pro NFL players. They are nearly 20 times more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than the general population, for example. There is a chilling scene showing Ann McKee, professor of neurology and pathology at Boston University, slicing through the brains of dead NFL veterans and pointing to the dark places associated with the brain disease CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). There is a painful moment when an NFL veteran finds himself unable to name the months of the year.
Best Documentary: Head Games, Director Steve James; Producers Bruce Sheridan, Steve James; Executive Producer Steve Devick.
Featuring the explosive film "Head Games," about the controversy surrounding head injuries among athletes and the tragic end that can result. Director Steve James ("Hoop Dreams") tells the story of Harvard University football player and WWE wrestler Chris Nowinski's quest to uncover the truth about the consequences of sports related head injuries.
The film is a tough and nuanced look at the causes and crippling consequences of the ubiquitous brain injuries and at the sporting cultures and conditions that foster them.
It would be naïve to suggest that every parent ought to attempt to prevent his or her children from playing sports that might result in brain injuries. It is perhaps less naïve to suggest that parents should have some knowledge of the dangers associated such sports, and there is no better way for parents, coaches, and everybody else to acquire that knowledge than to watch Head Games.
The Hoop Dreams director tackles the rise of concussions in contact sports and how it affects the players who suffer them. A look at the documentary and why we all need to stop being so hard-headed about head injuries.
"Head Games" is inspired by Christopher Nowinski's book of the same name. Nowinski is the former WWE wrestler turned concussion activist that has led the charge on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease that has been found in athletes who suffered multiple concussions during their careers in contact sports.
It takes a deeper look at the devastating and long-term effects of concussions in all sports, and offers eye-opening insight and presents supporting cutting-edge science evidence on head trauma from leading medical experts. Consider it a cautionary tale, a call to action, an attempt to scare or frighten; it's all of those and more, and its contents shouldn't at all be taken lightly.
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Head Games may forever change the way you view sports. It certainly changed the way I do. Director Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters) takes on the subject of head trauma… Steve James has made an important film that every athlete – or parent of an athlete – should see.
I know if I had seen this movie years ago I would have made better choices as a parent when to allow my son to return to sports.
Head Games is a must-see film for parents of sons and daughters involved in sports like football, hockey, and soccer. This hard-hitting documentary explores the long-term impact of concussions on athletes who experience this type of brain injury while practicing and playing these popular games
An informative and emotionally engaging meditation of the inherent neurological dangers found not just in contact sports like football and hockey but seemingly safe sports like women’s soccer.
One of the more fascinating aspects of a thoroughly entertaining movie is how incomprehensible James' proposed changes are in a country where many would list their necessities as food, shelter and "Monday Night Football.
James frames his film with footage of a peewee football game, and at first, the seven- and eight-year-olds in helmets and pads look adorable. But by the end of the movie, that same image triggers feelings of fear and dread, because if the information in Head Games doesn’t become common knowledge, every single one of them is ignorantly risking their memory, their health, and their lives.
Even as parents are interviewed about their recently deceased superstar kids, Head Games avoids a sentimentality associated with sports films and stories about extinguished “candles in the wind.” Dealing with the perils of youth sports without being cloying requires a delicate balance. Instead, the film frankly sets up the tension between how we want to protect our loved ones and our ultimate inability to do so.
The film, which debuted in Los Angeles and New York as well as two major streaming websites, is receiving rave reviews from various media outlets. Also, the movie is getting a lot of press through interviews with director Steve James, who’s best known for directing the acclaimed basketball documentary “Hoop Dreams.”
Steve James’s (Hoop Dreams) latest doc is about a subject that may not sound particularly cinematic—the hidden reality of head injuries in the world of sports—but it’s disturbing and fascinating.
James ("Hoop Dreams") knows where to go for his information; he also knows the type of subject who works best in a film. Happily, in "Head Games," these priorities coincide. All interviewees are passionate, likable, occasionally funny and not constrained by the talking-heads format, helping to bring to life what might have been a dry, numbers-driven subject.
Easily one of the most important sports documentaries of the past few years.
The devastating effects of head injuries in sports are detailed in Steve James' wrenching documentary.
You'll think twice about sending off your kids to play school football after watching this powerful documentary about the devastating effects of head injuries in sports. Based on Christopher Nowinski’s book of the same name, this powerful documentary by Steve James (Hoop Dreams) tackles the hot-button issue of the devastating effects of head injuries in sports.
“Head Games” is alternately sobering and terrifying. It is painful to watch a grown man struggle to recite the months of the year, and to hear about the shockingly high number of suicides among N.F.L. veterans with C.T.E. It is also chilling to watch youngsters heading out onto the field or the ice accompanied by the usual exhortations from parents and coaches to play hard.
Mr. James, whose “Hoop Dreams” may be the best sports documentary ever made, is motivated by a fan’s devotion as well as a journalist’s skepticism. “Head Games” gains credibility and power from compassion for athletes and respect for their accomplishments. But it also tries to open the eyes of sports lovers to dangers that have too often been minimized and too seldom fully understood.
Sports fans and supporters of the medicinal arts will no doubt find a lot to enjoy in Head Games, but it should probably be required viewing for parents of children who play "hard-contact" sports, to say nothing of those kids themselves.
Directed by Steve James (Hoop Dreams), the film (in theatres Friday) is an eye-opening look at this “silent epidemic” spearheaded by former pro-wrestler Chris Nowinski. As the driving force behind the research that links chronic traumatic encephalopathy to the deaths of such athletes as hockey enforcer Derek Boogaard, he and advocates like Primeau battle a wave of denial.
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, Major Threats: Head Games (Variance Films, 9/21, PG-13)