It's not surprising that Linsanity, 2013's definitive feel good documentary, will be screening at Indianapolis's upcoming Heartland Film Festival, a festival that celebrates positive and inspiring films. The son of Taiwan immigrants, Lin was a stand-out basketball at Palo Alto High School but his only Division 1 scholarship offer was from Harvard University. Despite that rejection, Lin went on to excel once again and put Harvard basketball on the map.
Then, once again, Lin faced rejection as he went undrafted despite a stand-out collegiate career that would have been more than sufficient enough for nearly anyone not an Asian-American.
Lin eventually signed with the Golden State Warriors, mostly because he'd played AAU ball with the son of the team's new owner, Joe Lacob. Things didn't go quite as planned, however, and Lin was cut to create budget space for Deandre Jordan. Lin was quickly picked up by the Houston Rockets, but that stay was even more quickly ended than his stay in Golden State.
Then, Lin was signed by the struggling New York Knicks. To say Lin initially struggled would be unfair, because the truth is Lin wasn't even given much practice time let alone actual playing time. Likely within hours of being waived, Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni decided to give Lin a shot against the Boston Celtics.
Then, the very next night a Carmelo Anthony injury likely opened the door for what would no doubt be one last shot at an NBA career for Jeremy Lin.
If you're even remotely a basketball fan, you know what happened next as Lin exploded.
Suddenly, Linsanity was born.
Linsanity the movie is yet the latest in a long line of crowdfunded feature films having raised its $117,000 production budget in 2012 and having its world premiere at Utah's Sundance Film Festival in January of this year. Now, the film has been picked up by Ketchup Entertainment for a limited nationwide release beginning October 4th in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, and 10-15 other cities with more unquestionably on the horizon.
As presented by director Evan Leong, Linsanity is a film that is destined to appeal to diehard Hoosier fans of basketball with its feel good spirit and underdog story. While some may fault Leong's enthusiastic reverence for the Jeremy Lin story, It would be nearly impossible to not have that enthusiastic reverence for Lin after watching Linsanity, a film that manages to both play up the Jeremy Lin hype while driving home the young man's work ethic, confident yet humble nature, and deeply rooted faith.
Leong doesn't shy away from dealing with the darker aspects of Lin's rise to fame - most notably, the intensity with which Lin has had to deal with racism that can be both subtle and downright abusive. Even when Lin was attending the notoriously progressive Harvard, his experiences with racism ranged from racial taunts chanted by opposing "fans" to missed opportunities no doubt rooted in biases against his Asian-American roots and the accompanying stereotypes.
While affected by these experiences, the seemingly even-keeled Lin also seems to never let them get the best of him. In fact, the best moments in Linsanity, beyond the fantastic basketball scenes, are the testimonies and scenes of everyday moments with Lin such as when he buys a clearance tabletop fountain for $10 and delights like a little kid as he puts it all together. There are other scenes as well, such as when he crashes at the New York City apartment of fellow player Landry Fields the night before his breakout game and numerous scenes between he and his family as they discuss his life, his faith, and even his struggle with his own ego.
If you remember the days, weeks and months that followed Lin's breakout games, you also remember that the league and most basketball fans were completely caught by surprise by his sudden rise to fame. Repeatedly asked his opinion of lin, Lakers' star Kobe Bryant is now rather infamous for proclaiming that he'd never heard of the rising star. After he'd led his New York Knicks over Kobe's Lakers, Lin confesses that he was tempted to say in an interview "Who the hell is Kobe Bryant?"
But then, Lin says, he thought to himself "What would Jesus do?" and he realized "Jesus probably wouldn't do that."
With an unabashed enthusiasm and positive spirit, Linsanity is easily one of 2013's most enjoyable and inspiring feature documentary experiences. While Leong does serve up a few too many slo-mo glory shots and has a tendency to stress unnecessary close-ups on Lin's not particularly expressive face, these are minor quibbles given the absolute joy and celebration one feels while watching the dream-affirming and celebratory film.
If you're in Indianapolis, this will definitely be a film you want to catch during its screening at the Heartland Film Festival on Saturday, Oct. 26th at 6:45pm at AMC Traders Point. If you're in a city where the film is going to open, it's definitely a film to check out. If you have a young athlete in your family, the PG-rated film also serves as a delightful testimony to perseverance, family, and the value of a work ethic. People of faith will also appreciate Lin's non-preachy yet honest thoughts and feelings about his faith and its effect on his peaks and valleys along his road to fame.
For more information on Linsanity, visit the film's website linked to in the credits and be sure to watch for its upcoming screenings.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic