Despite its serious title, Events Transpiring Before, During, and After a High School Basketball Game is a deeply silly film. As written and directed by Ted Stenson, it introduces us to a series of mini-crises playing out around the titular event, granting each one a significant stake—but only to those involved. Stenson’s film is not life-changing, but it’s easy to catch something in its many still frames that will resonate, if only as a goofy old memory.
Set in Calgary 1999, the crises of Events Transpiring Before… include a referee’s squabble with his wife over their dog, a censored student theatre group, and the competitive plight of the home team, with their own feuding coaches and a bench of characters trying not to get dunked on. Lending his Canadian star power to the film, you’ll recognize Andrew Phung (of Kim’s Convenience fame) as the Phil Jackson-obsessed assistant coach aspiring to enact the much-vaunted triangle offense. While we never quite see far outside the high school on this random weeknight, that’s really all any of these characters can do: dream and dwell on other things. (Don’t miss the janitor who recites a bit of Hamlet, for example.) Despite its own modest production, Stenson’s film succeeds by capturing the very smallness of these struggles. And, sure, maybe this is because I was 15 in 1999, spent a lot of time talking about The Matrix (much-discussed in the film), and played organized high school basketball, but, well, the film surely clicked at times for me.
But it doesn’t need to be that specific a connection. If you’ve been in high school, gotten involved in drama class, competed in a sport, or even just spent an aimless night with friends or coworkers bullshitting over this or that thing, Events Transpiring Before… will tickle some part of your mind. At its best, the film recalls The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker, burrowing so far into minutia it comes out the other side into profundity. Failing that, it’s just another day in the life.
Events Transpiring Before, During, and After a High School Basketball Game will be playing Landmark Cinemas’ Canadian Film Screenings Series on October 4, 2021 and launching on VOD by Game Theory Films on October 5, 2021