Jayhawkers

The underrated Kevin Willmott (C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, Destination Planet Negro) directed this docudrama about Wilt Chamberlain’s formative years at Kansas University during the tail end of the Jim Crow era. As in Willmott’s earlier efforts, an impressive visual imagination and a nuanced sense of history compensate for an obviously low budget. Shooting in digital black-and-white, Willmott so heightens the black tones that the action often seems to be transpiring in deep space; I’m not sure how this aesthetic relates to the content, but I enjoyed it all the same. I also admired Willmott’s skill in executing the basketball sequences, which illustrate more vividly than in most sports movies how athletics can become an outlet for personal and professional anxieties.