to have World Premiere next month at
the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival in the
Shorts: Go Big program
She is one of the greatest living women’s basketball players. 3 national trophies. Scored the first basket in women’s Olympic basketball at the ‘76 Olympics. Drafted to the NBA. But have you ever heard of Lucy Harris?
DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT | BEN PROUDFOOT
When I first googled Lucy’s name at the suggestion of a colleague and learned how she was the first and only woman officially drafted to the NBA, how she had scored the first basket in women’s Olympic history, and how, as a young Black woman from a tiny town and college in the Mississippi Delta, she led her team to three national titles in the mid-70s — I wondered how I had never heard of her, and where she was today.
And when I had the opportunity to visit with her at her home in Mississippi, it became clear that Lucy’s story was much more than just a basketball story, and Lucy far more than an elite athlete and pioneer, but a gifted and open storyteller with a clarion memory.
We were having great trouble finding photos and especially film of Lucy playing (How strange, I thought!), until I walked into the Delta State University Archives to pick up a single reel of 16mm film, apparently the only remaining footage of the great Lucy Harris that they had. I was met by a friendly archivist. As I was signing the paperwork to borrow the film so we could scan it, I offhandedly prodded, as a documentary filmmaker often does, “So this is all you have of Lucy, huh? No other photos or tapes or anything?” The archivist cocked her head and her eyes showed confusion. “Uh, no, there’s more.” My pen stopped involuntarily, and I turned my head. “Oh?” I asked. “Yes,” she said, “there’s a lot more.”
From dozens of uncatalogued bankers boxes in the back corner of the DSU vault, our team digitized nearly ten thousand film negatives and sixteen thousand feet of film, nothing short of a documentary treasure that had laid in waiting for nearly half a century. The visual legacy of Lusia “Lucy” Harris, as told from memory in her own voice, painted a portrait of one of the most important American athletes of the 20th century.