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Maria Finitzo’s In The Game – an exhilarating documentary about race, class, and gender premieres this Friday, February 5 at the Spring 2016 New Jersey Film Festival!

By Al Nigrin

originally published: 02/02/2016

Maria Finitzo’s In The Game – an exhilarating documentary about race, class, and gender premieres this Friday, February 5 at the Spring 2016 New Jersey Film Festival!

Maria Finitzo’s In The Game – an
exhilarating documentary about race, class, and gender premieres this Friday, February 5 at the Spring 2016 New Jersey Film Festival!

Here is an interview with In The Game Director Maria Finitzo:

In the Game is not a conventional documentary about a scrappy, inner-city girls high school soccer team that wins a championship through hard work and persistence. Rather, it’s a documentary about race, class, and gender as seen through the lives of inner-city girls. What motivated you to make this film?

Finitzo: The project originated as a story about Title IX and what was still left undone since the law was passed.  I'd read that girls of color were often left behind when it came to sports. I was introduced to Coach Stan at Kelly High School, a school where the student body is more than three-quarters Latino and where over 90% of the families live are low-income. I found that it wasn't as if the boys had everything for sports at Kelly and the girls had nothing—none of those kids had enough. Even though Kelly High School is really dedicated to its students, the resources for schools in communities of color are less than in other places. So the film became a story about equality, across the board, and giving a voice to a group often unheard. I wanted to tell a story about the impact that race, class and gender have on one’s life opportunities- especially the ability to receive a quality education.

It also became clear to me that the story would center on a coach who uses the game of soccer to keep girls engaged in life. The students love Coach Stan! He teaches them that there's always going to be someone better than you, but you have to try your best anyway. The team lost all the time and yet these young women were so resilient—they got a sense of sisterhood out of the experience of being on the team and never gave up.

Nigrin: But this is not just a film about a soccer team dealing with loss and economic hardship. It’s an exhilarating portrait of girls who are learning to win in life. Tell us more about the girls who you follow in the film?

Finitzo: The three soccer players I followed are emblematic of many young people growing up in the inner city in today’s world. I didn’t try to pick the best students nor the worst. I wanted to follow young women who were actively engaged with life, who were leaders on the team and seemed excited about going to college. I followed them for 3-4 years so when I started the film, I had no idea what was ahead for them.  As you see in the film, all three ended up leaving college despite trying their best to succeed. The financial hardships were too much. I’m happy to say all 3 have returned to college this semester.  You can read about their plans on their gofundme page:   


Nigrin: The film also rightfully focuses on Coach Stan Mietus, who is also an immigrant. His story  is also very compelling and obviously resonates with the girls on his team. But he has been able to move forward in American society whereas the girls have more difficulties. Tell us more about this disparity.

Finitzo: Well, I think race and culture has a huge impact on breaking out of poverty.  In addition, there is the gender issue.   The expectations for girls vs. boys in the Hispanic culture are still different. The ladies in the film talk about having to sneak out to play soccer even though their brothers were expected to play.

Nigrin: The New Jersey Film Festival jury found your film to be quite touching and emotional. Have audiences felt the same way about your film?  

Finitzo: Thank you! Yes, we have been very honored by the response of audiences to the film.  Regardless of age, race or economic status, we have seen audiences deeply moved.  It has been a great experience for us to see the impact the film can have in inspiring conversation and hopefully even inspire change . The three young Latinas from the film have often attended the screenings and they have been touched by how the audiences want to support them and are cheering them on. I think in many ways, it gave them the motivation to return to college.


Nigrin:  Were there any memorable stories in getting the film finished or any other info about your film you can pass on to us?  

Finitzo: Unfortunately the memories are all about how incredibly hard it was to fund the film. I began filming without much funding and I continued filming without any funding. I liked to joke, although it wasn’t all that funny, that everyone with a cell phone and a desk had turned the film down. I wanted to quit a million times, but every time I thought “Ok, this is it,” I would stop and think about the young women I was following and realize that their voices needed and deserved to be heard. Quitting was not an option for them, so it couldn’t be for me.   I was lucky to have the support from my colleagues at Kartemquin, and very fortunate to be able to work with a group of extraordinarily talented people who were very generous. Most of us didn’t get paid much, if anything, to work on the film; sadly, that’s a common story for documentary filmmakers!

Here is a link to the trailer for In The Game  


The stunningly beautiful film Crepusculo (Twilight) will be screened before  In The Game. Here is more info on this screening!

Crepusculo (Twilight)  - Juan Pablo Daranas Molina (Havana, Cuba)  A stunningly beautiful short film about a young woman who works as a clown in a travelling circus.  While performing in a remote mountain community, she meets Abelito, a little boy with a skin disease that doesn’t allow him to have contact with direct sunlight. In Spanish, subtitled. 2015; 37 min. 

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In The Game - Maria Finitzo (Chicago, Illinois)  In the Game is not a conventional documentary about a scrappy, inner-city girls soccer team that wins a championship through hard work and persistence. Rather, it’s a documentary about race, class, and gender as seen through the lives of inner-city girls. But this is not just a film about a soccer team dealing with loss and economic hardship. It’s an exhilarating portrait of girls who are learning to win in life. 2015; 76 min. Co-sponsored by the Rutgers University Centers for Global Advancement and International Affairs (GAIA Centers)!

Friday, February 5, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.

Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University

71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey

$12=General; $10=Students+Seniors; $9=Rutgers Film Co-op Friends

Information: (848) 932-8482;

Free Food courtesy of Jimmy Johns of New Brunswick will be given out prior to this screening of the New Jersey Film Festival!




2018 International Film Festival Brings 4 Award Winning Foreign Films To Vineland
(VINELAND, NJ) -- Enjoy four highly-acclaimed award-winning recent foreign films representing diverse cultures at the 2018 International Film Festival, starting Monday, November 26, at the Levoy Theatre, 126-130 N. High St., Millville, NJ. The four films—A Fantastic Woman, The Interpreter, 1945, and Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me—will introduce the theatergoer to the universality of themes that are common to Jewish and other international themes. They are representative of the finest of today’s international cinematographic art.
John T. LaBarbera Presents Charlie Chaplin's “The Immigrant” with New Original Score
(TEANECK, NJ) -- Performer, composer, and author John T. LaBarbera performs his original score for Charlie Chaplin’s The Immigrant at the Puffin Cultural Forum in Teaneck on October 28 at 4:00pm. LaBarbera’s score creates an emotional atmosphere through the melodic themes that are reminiscent of the Italian immigrant music published during the early 20th century. Chaplin’s 1917 comedy about his own experiences as an immigrant draws on parallels of the popular songs of Tin Pan Alley which inform LaBarbera’s composition, highlighting the comedic and romantic aspects of the film through ragtime style, slapstick references, and melodic leitmotif that adorn the film’s narrative.
NJSO presents Star Wars: A New Hope in concert on Thanksgiving weekend
(NEWARK, NJ) --The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra presents screenings of the complete film Star Wars: A New Hope with Oscar-winning composer John Williams’ musical scores performed live on Thanksgiving weekend, November 23–25. Performances take place in Red Bank, Newark, and New Brunswick.
East Lynne Theater Company presents "Poe" and "Dr. Jekyll"
(CAPE MAY, NJ) -- The award-winning Equity professional East Lynne Theater Company presents two events in time for Halloween: "Poe by Candlelight" on Saturday, October 20 at 8:00pm and the classic silent thriller, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," accompanied by Wayne Zimmerman on the organ, on Sunday, October 21 at 7:30pm, both at The First Presbyterian Church, 500 Hughes Street in Cape May, where the theater is in residence.
Basie Center Celebrates Dia De Los Muertos With "Coco" Benefit Screening And Community Ofrenda
(RED BANK, NJ) -- The nonprofit Count Basie Center for the Arts will present a big-screen showing of Disney’s Coco as part of its annual celebration of Dia de los Muertos, sponsored by Basie’s partner program Calpulli Mexican Dance Company. The screening, which takes place on Saturday, November 3 at 11:00am, will also serve as a fundraiser for the Red Bank Borough School District, which will receive half of all tickets sold.

REVIEW: "Cold War"
Back in 2006, German cinema scored something of a breakout global hit with Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others, which followed the travails of a group of disgruntled, pro-western artists in communist era East Germany. At the time I couldn’t help viewing the protagonists of Von Donnersmarck’s drama as the sort of people who would be just as discontented with their lot if they found themselves living in the capitalist west. The grass is always greener on the other side.
Baba Babee Skazala
Among the many intriguing films being screened at New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018, one title immediately caught our eye — Baba Babee Skazala: Grandmother Told Grandmother.  
NJ Film Fest Preview: October 2018
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018 runs from September 14 to October 26 on the Rutgers University Campus in New Brunswick, NJ. Showcasing new international films, American independent features, animation, experimental and short subjects, and cutting-edge documentaries, the New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018 will feature over 30 film screenings.  
REVIEW: "Black 47"
In a year that has offered cinemagoers culturally distinctive takes on the western genre from countries as disparate as Australia (Sweet Country), Indonesia (Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts) and South Africa (Five Fingers for Marseille), it’s no surprise to find Irish cinema adopting the tropes of that most traditionally American of genres.
Michael Gallagher’s terrific comedy Funny Story Premiere’s at the Fall 2018 New Jersey Film Festival this Friday, September 14!
Michael Gallagher’s terrific feature Funny Story Premiere’s at the Fall 2018 New Jersey Film Festival this Friday, September 14!

Event calendar
Friday, Oct 19, 2018


COVEY @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

PIMPS OF JOYTIME WITH WAITING ON MONGO @ The Wonder Bar, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

THE DAMNED WITH RADKEY AND THE DARTS @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

The Early November @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

Kid Rock @ Hard Rock Live Etess Arena at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 8:00pm

Real Diamond- Tribute to Neil Diamond @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Abbie Gardner at the Minstrel @ Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, Morristown - 7:30pm

SHA NA NA @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 8:00pm

DALA @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 8:00pm

The Psychedelic Furs @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm


The Shuck @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

CDC Theatre presents A Few Good Men @ CDC Theatre, Cranford - 8:00pm

Wait Until Dark @ Somerset Valley Playhouse, Hillsborough - 8:00pm

Rocky Horror Picture Show @ Bow Tie Cinemas (Hoboken), Hoboken - 11:30pm

Roxey Ballet's Dracula @ Roxey Ballet Canal Studio Theater, Lambertville - 7:00pm

World Premier of, HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, A Horror of a Play @ Forum Theatre (Metuchen), Metuchen - 8:00pm

The Color Purple @ Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn - 8:00pm

Dracula @ The Baird Theatre on Three, South Orange - 7:30pm

Almost, Maine @ Jay & Linda Grunin Center For The Arts At Ocean County College, Toms River - 7:30pm

Black Tom Island @ The 1882 Carriage House, Liberty Hall Museum, Union - 8:00pm

*Uncle Vanya, Scenes from a Jersey Life in Four Acts @ Hudson Theatre Works, Weehawken - 8:00pm


Coppélia @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm


New Jersey Film Festival @ Voorhees Hall #105, New Brunswick - 7:00pm


The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival @ Victoria Theater @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 9:00am


THE PRICE IS RIGHT LIVE! @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

View all events


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