When Kevin Durant is not helping the Golden State Warriors win NBA championships, he is behind the cameras as an executive producer of documentaries.
“Q Ball,” distributed by Fox Sports Films, provides an intimate portrayal of the San Quentin State Prison basketball team. They play good ball, so good that free men actually enter the prison once a week just for the competition.
Director Michael Tolajian’s documentary explores inmates’ personal struggles as they search for redemption and transcendence both on and off the court. The answers, characters, and stories are complex, but in San Quentin – a place where freedom is taken away – basketball gives a little bit back.
Kevin Durant first learned about this league when he and his teammates visited the San Quentin earlier this year. For the two-time MVP, it was that visit that inspired him to plunge into this project.
“My first visit to San Quentin with my teammates was an unforgettable experience that moved me and made me want to bring it to a larger audience,” Durant said in a statement. “This film shines a light on these individuals, their struggles and their connection through basketball.”
Just like on the court, KD as his fans call him has surrounded himself with some all-star talent.
Tolajian, who just joined Fox Sports Films two years ago, has both Emmy and Peabody Awards. “Q Ball” will be his latest film in the Magnify series, which has Emmy nominations to its credit.
Most of the players were recruited to play division one basketball before their lives went astray. Thirty-one-year-old Harry “ATL” Smith is one of the best players on the team. He hopes to be “the first convicted felon to suit up in an NBA jersey” after his release from San Quentin.
Many of the inmates remain imprisoned because of California’s Three Strikes Sentencing Law. Implemented in 1994, the Three Strikes Sentencing Law punishes past offenders by doubling the sentencing of their second crime, and if they commit a third crime, it is a minimum sentence of 25 to life.
Allan “Black” McIntosh, featured in the film, is a three-strikes offender. California residents had an opportunity to reverse the states Three Strikes Law in 2004 but it was voted down.
The documentary had its world premiere at the SFFilm Festival on April 11. It was released in theaters in Los Angeles on Friday and will be released in New York on May 24. Fox Sports 1 will air the documentary on May 28 at 9 p.m. ET.