If I watched more sports documentaries, I would probably tell you that this isn’t your typical sports documentary but for all I know it is. NBA Defensive Player of the Year Ron Artest (now apparently known as Meta World Peace) is not the first professional athlete to have their rise, fall, and comeback examined in a feature film. Born and raised in the Queensbridge Projects of Queens, Artest isn’t the first pro to have grown up in a poor neighbourhood or have had a troubled childhood.
Through most of Quiet Storm, I found it hard to see exactly why Artest, who was infamously prone to unpredictable angry outburst, has a story that needs to be told. The film spends a lot of time interviewing former teammates (including Jermaine O’Neal and Kobe Bryant) as well as coaches, commentators, and family. It spends a lot of time on socioeconomic and cultural context, as it details what it was like growing up in Queensbridge during the 80s, and takes a lengthy tangent to comment on the neighbourhood’s truly impressive hip hop scene.
If you’re familiar with Artest, which I was not, you probably have an idea where this film was heading. Once we got to the 2004 Pacers vs Pistons brawl, for which Artest may be best known, and the documentary recounts in detail, it was finally clear to me why people would be so fascinated to make a film about Artest. It was only by the film’s climax, however- his 2010 championship win- that I connected with his story.
By the end, Quiet Storm makes an excellent case that The Ron Artest Story is one of triumph over personal demons and living with mental illness. As one interviewee notes, the sports world has seen its share of stories about overcoming injuries and addictions, but not nearly as many about overcoming mental illness, certainly not in such a public way. Artest can be difficult to work with and not all of his former teammates are ready to forgive him yet, or even say nice things about him. However, to return after such a public embarrassment takes a kind of courage that I found truly inspiring.
Sunday, Apr 28, 5:30 PM, Scotiabank Theatre 3
Monday, Apr 29, 10:15 AM, Isabel Bader Theatre
Sunday, May 5, 10:30 AM, Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema