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

Davy Rothbart, creator of FOUND Magazine and regular This American Life contributor, discusses his new documentary Medora with MPR News' Ground Level project.Medora is an in-depth, deeply personal look at small-town life, a thrilling, underdog basketball story, and an inspiring tale of a community refusing to give up hope despite the brutal odds stacked against them. On a grander scale, it’s a film about America, and the thousands of small towns across the country facing the same fight. As one towns-person told us, “Once we lose these small towns, we can't get them back."

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 editor Dave Peters this morning for an online chat about the film because of the similar themes between it and much of the reporting Ground Level has done. 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 co-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."

Read the chat in its entirety below
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