Every sports film out there is meant to be inspirational. To show just how far an athlete or team has come despite the odds. And in that sense, Rise, the new sports movie coming to Disney+ this week fits the bill. But Rise isn’t just showing how a player overcame their struggles – but instead shows the struggles of an immigrant family and their way through the world.
Rise focuses on the Antetokoumpo family, refugees from Nigeria who found their way to Greece and strive to not only become part of the local society but find their place in the world. Despite not being citizens, Vera and Charles make sure their sons are born and are Greek citizens, even if they aren’t treated as such. Focusing on their futures and dedicated to the family the couple does what they can to give all of their children the life and future they never have.
When their sons Giannis (Uche Agada) and Thanasis (Ral Agada) show their skills on the basketball court, their futures and that of the whole family start taking another direction completely, which will not only pave the way for the Antetokounmpo family but the younger siblings as well.
The struggles of immigrant families are put on full display in Rise. It not only shows the xenophobia refugees often experience but the hurdles they have to overcome to just get the basic necessities in everyday life. The movie doesn’t shy away from these, as not only is it a more common occurrence than most people would like to admit, but also it’s a pivotal part of the Antetokounmpo family’s story.
Rise is obviously focused on sports and basketball, but the struggles of the family and their path to security is almost as strong throughout the movie. It doesn’t feel like a typical sports movie, and actually makes a much larger statement when it comes to the struggles and rights of refugees throughout the world.
If you’re a fan of sports films or need some inspiration Rise is definitely a movie to check out. It brings the rags to riches story of a family just making their way through the world and a unique immigrant story to the screen. Rise will be available on Disney+ on June 24th with a subscription.
Audiences have never seen a story like that of the Antetokounmpos. After emigrating from Nigeria to Greece, Charles and Vera Antetokounmpo (Dayo Okeniyi and Yetide Badaki, respectively) struggled to survive and provide for their five children, while living under the daily threat of deportation. With their oldest son still in Nigeria with relatives, the couple were desperate to obtain Greek citizenship but found themselves undermined by a system that blocked them at every turn. When they weren’t selling items to tourists on the streets of Athens with the rest of the family, the brothers– Giannis (Uche Agada) and Thanasis (Ral Agada)– would play basketball with a local youth team. Latecomers to the sport, they discovered their great abilities on the basketball court and worked hard to become world class athletes, along with brother, Kostas (Jaden Osimuwa). With the help of an agent, Giannis entered the NBA Draft in 2013 in a long shot prospect that would change not only his life but the life of his entire family. And last season, Giannis and Thanasis helped bring the Milwaukee Bucks their first championship ring in 50 years, while Kostas played for the previous season champs, the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Rise” stars Dayo Okeniyi, Yetide Badaki, Manish Dayal, Taylor Nichols, introducing Ral Agada and introducing Uche Agada. The film was directed by Akin Omotoso (“Vaya”), written by Arash Amel (“A Private War”) and produced by Bernie Goldmann (“300”). Giannis Antetokounmpo and Douglas S. Jones served as the executive producers.