VIFF Review: ‘Events Transpiring Before, During, and After a High School Basketball Game’ is a slice of nostalgia

We’ve all seen sports movies. The story of an underdog team that needs to find it in their hearts to work as a team and rally to beat their rivals. Or maybe they play their best but lose at the last moment, only to learn a valuable life lesson about how to define success. Or maybe they’re playing to give their hometown a boost following an economic downturn or tragedy. These are stories about heart, gumption, and stick-to-itiveness.

These are feel-good movies, with the thrill and emotional highs of the game serving to reinforce some greater point about life. But do they look like real life? Sure, some of the time for some people, but for many high school sports are a mundane slog.

Enter Events Transpiring Before, During, and After a High School Basketball Game, in which writer and director Ted Stenson attempt to capture this more mundane, realistic night in the life of a high school basketball team.

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True to the name of the film, we never actually see the basketball game in this film. It instead focuses on the rest of the late 1990s night in the school and follows a theatre group grappling with their staging of King Lear being shut down, as well as the players on the team struggling to explain the existentialism of The Matrix to one another and the assistant coach of the team trying way too hard to sell his idea of running legendary NBA Coach Phil Jackson’s triangle offence.

Each of these stores is both mundane and completely absurd. You may wonder how, but if you went to high school, you should probably already have some ideas., especially if you went to high school in the mid to late 1990s like I did and this movie is doing.

The 1990s nostalgia hit me fairly hard with the film, too. But, having gone to high school in a small town where precisely these kinds of shenanigans could and would happen, there is a comfortable familiarity with the way the film feels.

I don’t know that Events Transpiring is going to be for everyone. Most of what happens is fairly mundane, and not a lot actually happens. Still, what happens feels like something right out of my high school experience, and it’s neat to see that on-screen.


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