'Events Transpiring Before, During and After a High School Basketball Game' Is a Humble Slice of Life Directed by Ted Stenson
Starring Andrew Phung, Paul Cowling, Reamonn Joshee, Ivy Miller, Catherine Gell, Madi Vermeulen
Published Oct 05, 2021The longest thing about Events Transpiring Before, During and After a High School Basketball Game is its title. This is as small and humble a movie as you'll ever see, with a runtime of 75 minutes (including the credits), and every scene shot by a stationary camera (often positioned far away from the characters). There's no clear message or even a plot — but it's a fun, quirky glimpse into the very ordinary lives of some teenagers.
Set in Calgary in 1991, Events Transpiring plays out over the course of a couple hours in which a boys' basketball team gets absolutely demolished by a much taller visiting high school. Meanwhile, one of the refs loses his ailing dog, the drama club tries to concoct a protest against the patriarchy, and the players fret about get "dunked on" by the opposing team. We don't see any basketball whatsoever, with the entire movie devoted to the conversations that happen in and around the action.
This is 1999, meaning that the kids spend most of the basketball game discussing The Matrix, and assistant coach Brent (Kim's Convenience actor Andrew Phung) hilariously won't stop talking about Phil Jackson's triangle offence.
It's intensely realistic. Even when some of the performances are a touch stiff and timid, it feels like a natural reflection of teenage awkwardness rather than bad acting. And nearly everyone is loveably pretentious, from the drama kids who want a hang an effigy of Jean Chrétien onstage to the basketball players ineptly debating whether The Matrix has existential themes.
It's all very charming, although the film's apparent lack of ambition means that it falls short of making a bold statement or having an emotional impact. The couple of moments when the score swells up give the film a poignant beauty and gravity otherwise missing (even when the music is used ironically in order to poke fun of Brent's halftime speech in the locker room, it's still quite touching). Director Ted Stenson made the film to show a non-cinematic side to high school rarely found on film — but perhaps he could have dug a little deeper to reveal the beauty in the everyday, rather than simply depicting it.
Events Transpiring isn't a moving film, but it's a compelling (and very believable) slice of high school life. (Game Theory)