ESPN 30 for 30 Shorts: From Harlem with Love (2014)

Directed by Matt Ogens

I’ve come across the Harlem Globetrotters a few times in this series it seems. Goose was a treasure as it explored on the teams storied yet overlooked players. But what I gain most from this iteration of the Globetrotter documentary is the heart, soul, and talent of the team. Today the NBA is the main attracted, so it comes with some difficulty imaging a culture without the world’s best black players playing at the highest level, but such was the case during segregation and the cold war. In the late 1950’s Abe Saperstein looked to marry the two seemingly unrelated political situations, the Cold War and segregation, by taking his world famous Globetrotters to tour the USSR.

After much issue, the trip was finally approved by the Russian government, albeit with certain restrictions. However, what the Globetrotters managed to do, according at least the documentary filmmakers, was to make the Americans appear human, and the Russians too for that matter. Ogens pushes the agenda of Globetrotters as a cultural bridge that can connect anyone with a mind and a sense of humor. I wish I had been able to see the Globetrotters when they were in their prime. Even today I’m sure they are an impressive show, but I fear that seeing them load into a bus at a hotel in Casper, Wyoming may be the closest I come to seeing them play. I just don’t have the interest anymore. Their mystic is a thing of history. One to study more than to observe.


What the film does, in addition to push it’s overly celebratory position on the impact of the Globetrotters on the status of the Cold War (I doubt they affected the situation more than make a few Russians laugh and make those same few realize that Americans too are humans). Ultimately I might file this 30 for 30 Short iteration under the “Hmm, I never knew that. That’s pretty interesting.” folder, as it doesn’t explore anything very deeply, and the filmmaking is nothing eye-popping or noteworthy. Many of these shorts in the series work more as news reel material, informing of a situation more than exploring it at any length or depth, as should be expected I suppose with the short format. I can’t blame the film for that, but at the same time I struggle to really praise it for it either.


** 1/2 – Average

Adam Kuhn

Adam Kuhn was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he attended Saint Charles Preparatory School. He studied History at the University of Cincinnati, where he was a contributor of The News Record, the twice-weekly, independent student news organization. He has been writing film reviews and blogging since 2009.

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