The NBA and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) have their starting five.
The duo teamed up for a short film programme to celebrate the world’s top professional basketball league’s 75th anniversary season. The partnership will see five Canadian filmmakers debut their works at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
The festival, which kicked off Sept.9, wraps tomorrow with a closing gala.
Dubbed “NBA Films for Fans created with OLG,” each short will run for no more than seven minutes and 50 seconds in honour of the NBA’s 75 years.
The event highlights major Canadian events in NBA history.
“We’re proud to collaborate with OLG and TIFF on this tribute to Canadian basketball fans, made possible by a brilliant roster of filmmakers who reflect the passion and diversity of our league,” said Leah MacNab, NBA Canada managing director via a statement.
OLG, NBA support BIPOC Canadian filmmakers
Romeo Candido, Shawn Gerrard, Kat Jayme, Thyrone Tommy and S.M. Turrell are the five chosen filmmakers.
The program gave grants, access to NBA archives, and promotional support to each. Tyrone Tommy chose to focus on Canadian NBA hopefuls preparing for the draft. In contrast, Jayme honed in on the genesis of Canada’s two NBA franchises, the Toronto Raptors and (now defunct) Vancouver Grizzlies.
“Supporting Canadian filmmakers who are so dedicated to a sport invented by Ontario-born Dr. James Naismith is a natural fit for OLG’s love of sport and play,” said Randy Weyersberg, OLG’s vice president of brand management and marketing.
“OLG is proud to be part of this unique partnership with the NBA.”
Canadian interest in basketball growing
The big announcement comes as little coincidence.
Basketball participation in the country has steadily increased since the establishment of the NBA in Canada in 1995.
Future Hall-of-Famer Vince Carter helped dramatically explode the sport’s popularity during the early years. Since then, Canada has consistently held the second-highest number of NBA players outside the United States for years.
However, the country’s crown jewel has to be 2019, when the Raptors claimed its first-ever NBA championship.
“The history of Canadian basketball – from the first-ever NBA game at Maple Leaf Gardens to the birth of the Toronto Raptors, to our first NBA championship – is fundamental to the story of our city,” said Cameron Bailey, TIFF artistic director & co-head.
“As such, the Toronto International Film Festival is proud to help bring basketball back to the North this September.”
Those not at TIFF will still get a chance to see the films. Public release of each short will happen on significant NBA dates throughout the season—which tips off Oct.19.