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Take a look at ‘Joel’ a new documentary following Joel Ufele’s journey to the US, while reconciling his grief after losing his father and brother.
The mini-documentary was produced by Leo Buckley, and has just been nominated for best short documentary at Manchester Film Festival.
Buckley is a filmmaker from South London; he worked in film and TV before moving to an advertising agency as a director but has played basketball since he was 13, where Junior Williams was his first coach – the same as Ufele.
“Jason McColgan, the producer on the film, found an article about Joel online,” Buckley told Hoopsfix. “He sent it over to me and it turned out that Jay had also coached him. I reached out to Jay and he put us in touch.
“We arranged a day to meet and me and Jason went down to the regal for a chat. We were blown away by his story and most importantly his demeanour and outlook despite his experiences.
“We thought to ourselves ‘we have to make this film’ and went into production a few weeks later.”
The film was pitched to the company Leo works for, Hogarth Worldwide, and they decided to take it on with the staff donating their time whilst using the £3000 budget for equipment hire over a 5-day shoot.
Ufele first starting playing at Kennington Generals, before heading to Preston and then jumping across to the pond to Cochise Junior College. He then transferred to Northeast Community College before graduating to NCAA Division II Mercyhurst for his Junior year, where he is currently enrolled.
“I picked Joel as a subject because he is so likeable,” Buckley added. “You see it in the film, his charm is plain to see. He’s an incredible human being. To come out of what he went through, with the warmth and positivity that he has, is truly astounding. It’s a testament to himself and his family, especially his mum.”