It is always a delicate tightrope to walk when a documentary filmmaker incorporates themselves into their work. They run the risk, often unintentionally, of overshadowing their subjects. Fortunately, director Kathleen S. Jayme avoids this trap in her charming crowd-pleaser Finding Big Country.
A diehard fan of the Vancouver Grizzlies, the franchise moved to Memphis only six-years into its NBA existence, basketball played a key role in the young filmmaker’s life. While the team left an impression on Jayme, the Grizzlies are not even an afterthought in the minds of Vancouver residents. In local sports museum there is only one artifact, a signed basketball, proving that the team ever existed.
Unwilling to let go of her childhood memories, Jayme sets out to answer one longstanding question: Whatever happened to Bryant “Big Country” Reeves? The star of the short-lived Vancouver team, the high paid Reeves took to the brunt of the criticism for the team’s lack of wins. After an injury cut his promising career short, Reeves seemingly disappeared from the media spotlight.
Since a bulk of the film focuses on the journey of finding Reeves, it is helpful that Jayme’s delightful personality shines through. She does not come off as merely a superfan, but rather a woman whose life was genuinely impacted by the sport. Her time with Reeves feels honest, and shows how often people can come from two different environments and still find much common ground.
The Grizzlies may have been forgotten by their former city, but Jayme ensures that the gentle giant Reeves surely won’t be.
Sunday, November 11, 11:30 AM, TIFF Bell Lightbox