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photo Kiss My Wheels
By Miguel Grunstein
and Dale Kruzic
Thunder Road Productions

You've never seen basketball like this. Kiss My Wheels follows the Zia Hot Shots, a nationally ranked junior wheelchair basketball team, through a season of training and tournament competition. This spunky, diverse, co-ed group of adolescent athletes bring a special meaning to the idea of teamwork. "This is the one place they go where they have wings," says their coach. "Whether it's a flat tire or a leaking catheter, whatever it is, we can deal with it." And we do see them deal with some thorny and difficult issues, from gender conflicts to injury, illness and thoughts of death.

Along the way we get glimpses of some of the players' personal histories. Burly talks about being teased and persecuted in school: "I was really pissed off at the entire universe until I was about fourteen." But about wheelchair basketball, Burly says "This is what I was meant to do with my life." Josh is Native American, from Zuni Pueblo; moving to the city gave him the opportunity to participate with other kids who have disabilities. Getting out on the court, he says, "was like being let out of prison."

The team's coach, Pat, is also a wheelchair user — and a district court judge. His bond with his players is clearly a major influence in their lives, and his commitment to them is palpable, particularly in a moving scene when he acknowledges the pain of knowing that he "can't always fix it for them." Born in India, team captain Muthu was abandoned at the roadside by her mother. Muthu is clearly the soul of the team, and her promise midway through the program that "I can get you guys to the Nationals, but you're on your own from there" provides, in an unexpected and moving way, the mission that drives the second half of the film.

This is a great film about living with a disability, but it's an even better film about living with yourself. Kiss My Wheels is produced by Thunder Road Productions in association with the Independent Television Service (ITVS), with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

 

DVD version has both closed-captions and audio description.

56 minutes
© 2003
Purchase $248.00 DVD
Order No. QA-367
ISBN (DVD) 1-57295-877-4
close captioned

Reviews
"Visually, Kiss My Wheels is about fluidity of motion. Conceptually, it's about...kids with disabilities who, maybe for the first time in their lives, feel certifiably cool! This is a righteous crip flick, full of our anger and solidarity. So much so, it's hard to believe that it was made by two nondisabled filmmakers." Barry Corbet, New Mobility

"This video is about more than wheelchair basketball. It documents how these adolescents learn important life skills such as teamwork, self-respect, courage, being an adolescent, and dealing with life as it is presented. The cinematography is excellent, as is the sound quality. Easily used in classroom and non-classroom settings and an excellent addition to any library. A must for those who serve a differently-abled population." Educational Media Reviews

"One of the most outstanding films that I have seen during my 30 plus years of experience in wheelchair sports. It is a very powerful piece. A magnificent tribute to the young people who play the game and the volunteers that help them become the best they can be." Bob Szyman, Former Secretary General, International Wheelchair Basketball Federation

"True grit of the kind executed by the characters in the film is not only admirable, but memorable. The sounds of competition, the candid personal moments and the cutaway interviews work as smoothly as a well executed 'pick' on the basketball court. A film you will remember and want to share with friends." Ray Bradsted, The Voice Newspaper

"Grunstein and Kruzic have created a masterpiece, portraying the modern human condition. The intimate interviews with coaches and players will touch all who view this documentary. Recommended for all types of libraries and appropriate for junior high through adult audiences." Library Journal

Awards & Conference Screenings
Silver Hugo, Chicago International Television Awards
Award of Excellence, Superfest
YALSA Award, American Library Association
CINE Golden Eagle
Emmy Award for Best Feature Program and Best
Editing, Rocky Mountain Regional Emmys
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Finalist, International Health and Medical Film Competition
Jury Award, First Place, Film Festival New Haven
Best Documentary, Picture This Film Festival
Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
First Place, Brooklyn International Disability Film Festival
Great Plains Film Festival
Mill Valley Film Festival
Ojai Film Festival
Cardiff, Wales, Screen Festival

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