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Heads Up ONF/NFB


Catalogue Number:  NFB540513
Producer:  National Film Board Of Canada
Producers:  Barrie Dunn, Annette Clarke
Directors:  Adamm Liley
Producing Agencies:  Heads Up Productions Inc. (Halifax),National Film Board of Canada (Montreal)
Subject:  Documentary, Family Studies/Home Economics, Sports
Language:  English
Country Of Origin:  Canada
Copyright Year:  2006
Running Time:  58:10
Closed Captions:  Yes


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Of the children gathered at your local rink, only one in a thousand will ever play an NHL game. But those odds do not cloud the dreams of an 11-year-old who lives and breathes hockey. Heads Up follows seven dreamers - six boys and one girl - through a pivotal and sometimes painful season: the year body checking begins and hockey turns serious.

They have graduated to pee-wee, where the players are bigger, the coaches demand more and you have to take a hit to make a play. When one boy describes this year's locker room as 'More mature, you know?' he gives voice to the conflicting urges at the heart of this film. The apprehension among these kids is palpable, but so is their passion and their appetite to play the game like the pros play it. They are budding teenagers, by turns playful and pensive, innocent and sharp, fearless and fragile.

We follow the young stars from bedrooms and backyards to the arena, where they battle it out under watchful, sometimes critical adult eyes. The grown-ups run the game and follow every move, but Heads Up maintains a players' eye view - at times the kids take over the camera, interviewing friends and parents or turning the lens on themselves. As coaches challenge the manhood of kids who are barely old enoug to kiss, director Adamm Liley hones in on the only issues that matter: What do our children want from sport? What does the culture of hockey demand of them? Can those agendas be reconciled?

An NHL veteran once said that hockey 'gives a guy a chance to be himself.' As the season unfolds and the provincial championship comes into view, the seven dreamers wrestle with questions that extend beyond the rink and the locker room. As they meet the challenges of a hard new game, negotiate space around Mom and Dad, face the truth about Santa Claus, and grit their teeth through bruises, fractures and frustrations, Heads Up becomes an intimate portrait of the beginning of the end of childhood.

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