Central conflict in ‘Medora:’ How to change and stay the same

How does a small town struggle with change and still hang on to what it values from the past? Davy Rothbart says that’s the central conflict in “Medora,” a documentary film he co-directed that explores the role a tiny high school basketball team plays in its town.

Rothbart joined MPR News reporter Jennifer Vogel and me this morning for an online chat about the film because of the similar themes between it and much of the reporting we’ve done at Ground Level. The film is being shown Nov. 12 at the Lagoon in Minneapolis.

“There is definitely a struggle between progress and holding onto one’s heritage going on in Medora, and towns like it,” Rothbart said. “Progress is inevitable. But letting go of the past isn’t easy.”

Rothbart and c0-director Andrew Cohn spent seven and a half months in the small Indiana town, watching the basketball team struggle but also delving into the lives of some of its players and into the choices they were facing.

He said they made the movie because “There are thousands of towns like Medora all across the country. Andrew and I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but we thought asking the question: ‘What is lost when towns like Medora fade away?’ is an important one to ask.”

Check out the full conversation here.