Filmmaker Steve James

    • set 11 items

    Steve James’ (Hampton, Virginia, 1954) work often deals with people on the margins of American society, trying to realise their dreams in the face of an often intractable reality. His style is characterised by his great social and personal commitment to his characters, whom he often follows for long periods of time.

    James broke through in 1994 with the critically acclaimed Hoop Dreams, his first serious long documentary (after the commissioned anti-drugs film Stop Substance Abuse), which follows two young talented basketball players over a period of several years. The more personal Stevie, about a troubled young boy to whom James had been an 'Advocate Big Brother' as a volunteer, won the IDFA Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary in 2002. James gave a master class at IDFA in 2008 and in 2011 compiled the Top 10; in that year, IDFA also showed a retrospective of his work. In addition to his documentaries, James also directed a feature fiction film and several TV movies.

    Watch online:

    Masterclass Steve James (IDFA 2011)

    Items in this selection

    Hoop Dreams

    • Steve James
    • 1994

    Steve James's award-winning film follows two young American basketball players as they pursue their dream of becoming NBA pros.


    • Steve James
    • 2002

    A sincere, shocking and touching portrait of Stevie Fielding, a former protégé of the director who is now suspected of a serious crime.

    The New Americans

    • Steve James, Renee Tajima-Peña, Jerry Blumenthal, Indu Krishnan, Susana Aikin, Carlos Aparicio, Gordon Quinn
    • 2003

    This long-term project follows new immigrants from their various native countries to the United States, where the American Dream often turns out to be disappointing.

    Reel Paradise

    • Steve James
    • 2005

    A deserted movie theater on a paradisiacal island of Fiji inspires American independent cinema guru John Pierson to undertake an adventurous project.

    At the Death House Door

    • Steve James, Peter Gilbert
    • 2008

    A portrait of a retired chaplain who stood by almost 100 death row inmates during their final moments, from 1982 to 1995.

    No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson

    • Steve James
    • 2009

    A personally motivated investigation into what really happened in the controversial Iverson case, which divided the city of Hampton, Virginia along racial lines back in 1993.

    The Interrupters

    • Steve James
    • 2011

    "Intervene before it can escalate" is the creed of the "violence interrupters," who are trying to break the cycle of violence on the streets of Chicago.

    Focus Forward: The Music Man

    • Steve James
    • 2012

    Professor and inventor Ge Wang believes everyone who loves music should be able to play it.  To that end, he created the "Ocarina" app which turns the iPhone into a musical instrument.

    Head Games

    • Steve James
    • 2012

    Scientific research suggests that serious brain damage is widespread among American athletes, but complaining about concussions is for crybabies.

    The Ride of Their Lives

    • Steve James
    • 2016

    Rhyder is only eight years old, but is already taking part in the rodeo world championship – a perilous sport.

    Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

    • Steve James
    • 2016

    Not all bankers escaped prosecution in the U.S. mortgage crisis: a small Chinese-American family bank spent years fighting in the courts.