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Rookie filmmaker goes one-onone with his Globetrotter dad

JOHN INTINI February 21 2005
BACK TALK

Rookie filmmaker goes one-onone with his Globetrotter dad

JOHN INTINI February 21 2005

Rookie filmmaker goes one-onone with his Globetrotter dad

BACK TALK

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Davis centres his Oscar-nominated documentary on race, basketball and family

Hubert Davis set out to make a straightahead documentary about his father, Mel, a Harlem Globetrotter in the ’60s and ’70s. He ended up with something much deeper and more personal. In Hardwood, which has earned the firsttime director an Academy Award nomination for best documentary short, the 29-year-old frames everything around basketball, but focuses on race and family—specifically the impact of his dad’s double life.

In the 1960s, Mel fell in love with a Vancouver woman, Megan. But instead of furthering that interracial relationship, Mel married a black woman and started a family in Chicago. Later, he and Megan began having an affair (Hubert is their son). Eventually, Mel

and Megan married. “I reopened a lot of old wounds,” says Hubert, who was 12 when his dad, whom he barely knew, moved to Vancouver after divorcing his first wife. “My family always danced around the painful issues. And those were the things I wanted to know about.” In his search for answers, Davis, a TV-commercial editor in Toronto, collected 30 hours of footage, much of it by interviewing family-including his step-brother, his mother, Mel’s ex-wife and Mel. “The camera was like a confessional,” says the married Hubert. “Everyone was so raw and honest. I often found myself fighting back tears, but at the same time hoping the camera didn’t run out of tape.”

JOHN INTINI

‘In 29 minutes, Hubert captured every one of the emotions that I lived through during that time in my life-including all the anger and jealousy.

I did a lot of crying the first time I saw the documentary. It brought everything back.’

-Mel Davis