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“Heading Home” The Tale of Team Israel

 

Review by John Delia

A great honor in sports is to get invited to a local, state, national or even an international tournament. It’s not an easy task as for some teams you have to win all your games in the season or win a state or national tournament. In the year 2017 Israel found itself in the unbelievable position of an invitation to an international baseball tournament that’s only held every four years. Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel is a documentary on that event and a tribute to all those who never say die. It’s a triumph for the underdog!

Sometimes it’s not always the winning that makes the feeling of greatness, especially in sports. It’s an opportunity to get to play in a tournament like the prestigious World Baseball Classic (WBC) that can fulfill dreams. In that tournament teams are assembled all over the world with baseball players that are connected in heritage by birth or by being a descendent of that country they are representing. The player must be able to at least qualify for that team’s citizenship even if you do not live in the nation. With a limited number of players with the ability to stand up against teams that have millions to choose from, it’s a difficult task indeed. Even harder when your country doesn’t even play the game professionally.

Photo courtesy of Menemsha Films

This is the story of team Israel that entered the WBC qualifying round on a thread, pulled themselves together in harmony and went on to earn the right to go the Classic’s first round in Soul, Korea. And to get there, they had to face off against one of the toughest teams in the world, Great Britain.

Directors Daniel A. Miller, Seth Kramer and Jeremy Newberger spool out their hard work and vision to follow the novice team from their first playoff game to the end of their trek. They show how General Manager Jerry Weinstein chose the team from baseball players that were rookies, active pros and even retired ones, all with a heritage that stemmed back to their Israeli lineage. They then layout their film with a show of team members traveling to Israel to experience their homeland and “rally” the people in support of their soon appearance at the WBC.

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – MARCH 09: Infielder Cody Decker #14 of Israel holds team mascot The Mensch after the World Baseball Classic Pool A Game Five between Netherlands and Israel at Gocheok Sky Dome on March 9, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images) From Menemsha Films

The filmmakers show the effect of each game on the team and fans as they progress to the semifinals in Japan. I like the way they handle the content with an open mind and heart as this classic is not only a competition, but a bringing together of fellowship from all over the world. Sure we see some of the hardship and even a touch of animosity, but even that shows a band of strength by team Israel.

Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel has not been rated by the MPAA, but does contain some language. It’s a very good sports fans, and even a family film, for the spirit, determination and dignity shown in the documentary. The Film can be seen at the following playdate theaters in South Florida. For the kiddies check out the mascot in the film “Mensch on the Bench”.

Playdate Theaters:
Miami: AMC Aventura 24
Broward: The Last Picture Show in Tamarac, The Classic Gateway in Fort Lauderdale
Palm Beach County:  Regal Shadowood in Boca, Living Room Theaters in Boca, Movies of Delray, Movies of Lake Worth

SPECIAL NOTE:

***MLB Outfielder Cody Decker, MLB reporter and a producer of the film Jonathan Mayo, 6′ Team Israel Mascot “Mensch on the Bench”, and filmmakers Daniel Miller, Jeremy Newberger and Seth Kramer will be making appearances at theaters for Q&As and signings February 8-10.   Details at http://www.ironboundfilms.com/headinghome

FINAL ANALYSIS: A good feeling documentary for a change. (5 out of 5 Stars)

Additional Film Information:
Co-directed by: Daniel A. Miller, Seth Kramer and Jeremy Newberger
Written by: Daniel A. Mille
Genre: Documentary, Baseball
MPAA Rating: Not Rated, contains language
Running Time: 1 hr. 27 min.
Opening Date: February 8, 2019
Distributed by: Menemsha Films
Released in: Standard

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