Unfinished Business – Tribeca 2022

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Unfinished tells the definitive story of the WNBA in documentary form while weaving in the 2021 season of New York Liberty.

The New York Liberty entered the 2021 season after one of its worst seasons in history. They were 2-20 in the 2020 season. Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu became the league’s first draft pick in April 2020 when the Liberty selected her. Meanwhile, Betnijah Laney joined the roster for the 2021 season after having one of his best seasons with the Atlanta Dream. The Liberty drafted UCLA forward Michaela Onyen with the 6th overall pick in 2021. They would improve their record to 12-20 and advance to the playoffs where they would fall to Phoenix in the first round.

This year marks the league’s 25th anniversary and boasts many stars who have played over the years. It’s one of those things that can make you feel old because many players on Liberty’s roster are now younger than the league itself! But regardless, the first lineup in 1997 became rock stars the moment they set foot in Madison Square Garden. It was a list that included both Rebecca Lobo and Teresa Witherspoon as the very first players on the list. The Liberty made four WNBA Finals but lost them all.

The WNBA is not immune to obstacles. It’s a league where players have faced both sexism and homophobia, among other things. Sue Wicks faced backlash when she came out as a lesbian. Years later, Brittney Griner was out almost as soon as she was drafted. It really shows how much the climate has changed over the last 25 years. How long before the WNBA gets a transgender player? Time will tell us.

Where NBA players can make enough money to not have to play overseas in the offseason, the same cannot be said for the WNBA. Many of their players end up playing for overseas teams just to make a living. They also have a shorter season compared to the NBA. WNBA ratings and salaries were rock bottom in 2015, and the misogynists only made it worse. Similarly, I’m sitting here thinking the NBA would have a multi-part documentary funded by ESPN or NBA TV. You could do a multi-part document and I would still watch. I also think more people would care about Brittney Griner being detained in Russia if he was an NBA player. Griner’s story alone feels like a documentary in itself. Maybe it’s because of my circles but I feel like less and less people are talking about it.

Filmmaker Alison Klayman has unprecedented access to WNBA archives as well as Liberty players. She weaves wisely between early seasons and recent players, especially the Liberty. This is all the comparison and contrast, especially with the advent of social media. When you look at current players, they are able to use their voice and speak out on issues that matter to them. After following Steve Bannon during filming The edgeKlayman shines the spotlight on deserving WNBA players.

Unfinished might tell his story through a New York lens, but it’s a documentary WNBA fans will want to watch.

DIRECTOR: Alison Klayman
STARRING: Teresa Weatherspoon, Rebecca Lobo, Sue Wicks, Betnijah Laney, Sabrina Ionescu, Joan Jett

Unfinished Business holds its world premiere at the 2022 Tribeca Fest in the Films Plus program. Rating: 3.5/5

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