Push: Madison Vs. Madison

Push: Madison Vs. Madison

Directed by: Rudy Hypolite
105 minutes

East Coast Premiere

At Madison Park Vocational Technical School in Roxbury, kids struggle with more than typical teenage angst: they deal with violent or absent parents, gang rivalry, and the murders of loved ones. The members of the talented varsity basketball team, though, have bonded through success and hope: they have an undefeated record and a chance at the state championship. Their dynamic coach, Dennis Wilson—who also teaches history and serves as the school’s dean of discipline—pushes them to make the most of their skills and work together to succeed. The team is a surrogate family, the charismatic Wilson a tough-love father figure.

But as in any family, relationships take work. The team is threatened from within by members who lose their academic focus, become jealous of other’s successes, or let past rivalries get in the way of current cooperation. At times, even Coach Wilson struggles to motivate the players and avoid getting caught up in the arguments. As recruiters and reporters swarm, the assistant coach gears the players up for a game by telling them, “The only team that can beat Madison is Madison.” But will it be Madison’s talent and perseverance that prevail, or the opposing Madison’s internal conflicts and external pressures?

Variously inspiring and heartbreaking, PUSH provides a compelling glimpse into the realities of inner-city life for young people and the educators striving to reach them.

—Kristina Aikens