A film by Maria Finitzo
2015, 77 minutes
No. 013


Directed by Peabody award-winner Maria Finitzo and produced by Kartemquin Films (Hoop Dreams), In the Game is a moving, timely documentary that follows the story of the girls’ soccer team at Kelly High School on Chicago’s south side.

Set in the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood of Brighton Park, Kelly High School is an inner city public school struggling to provide the basic necessities for their students, many of whom do not make it to college, either because they cannot compete academically or because their families do not have the financial resources to send them; 94% of Kelly High School students are categorized as “low income.” The girls of In the Game face an uneven playing field - or in the case of the girls at Kelly High School, no soccer field at all - little or no support, problems at home, uncertain futures, discrimination, and poverty, but remain undaunted thanks to their teammates and the dedicated mentoring of their coach, Stan Mietus.

The film follows three girls on the Trojans soccer team - Alicia, Elizabeth, and Maria - as they progress through their school years and beyond. All three seek to enter higher education after graduating high school, but must constrain their ambition due to their families’ lack of financial means. In the Game underlines that in a healthy democracy, equality is defined by who gets to play - both on the field, and off.

This is not a film about the scrappy underdog sports team that through hard work and persistence wins the championship. In this story, the team loses, often. In their personal lives Alicia, Elizabeth, Maria, and Stan all face setbacks and tragedies. But they persevere towards their goals, united and undaunted. This documentary is the story of strong young women and a dedicated coach who uses the game of soccer to teach his players how to face all that life will throw their way, without giving up, without complaints, with grace and with resilience.

Official Selection, American Film Showcase (curated by U.S. State Dept)
Official Selection, Chicago Latino Film Festival
Official Selection, Hollywood Film Festival
Official Selection, DocEdge Film Festival

"Inspiring without being pedantic, this thought-provoking film from the producers of the award-winning Hoop Dreams will spark discussions on inequities in school funding and the role of high-school sports." - Booklist

In the Game appears to be a feel-good documentary about an underdog high school girls soccer team. However, Peabody Award–winning director Maria Finitzo offers a deeper experience for viewers. She provides a realistic look into the world of low-income students and highlights the social issues they face as they pursue higher education… A great tool for facilitating discussion in sociology, social work, women and gender studies, education, and diversity courses. Recommended.” - Educational Media Reviews Online

"Three and a half stars! Highly recommended. Director Maria FInitzo has made a documentary that plays like a female version of Friday Night Lights... Makes a persuasive case for the importance of high school sports programs and caring staffers." - Video Librarian

In the Game doesn’t position itself as a ‘statement film.’ There are no statistics emblazoned on the screen. It is a study of one school’s athletic program and its players. And yet it feels more important than that. It feels empowering, even inspirational. You will lose some games. In life you will play some games that you never had a chance of winning. But the important thing is that you keep playing.” -

"In the Game is a great contribution to the documentaries about girls’ team sports. It shows the importance a team can have in girls’ lives and it shows the foundation a good team and coach can provide, but at the same it does so with a realistic eye toward how hard it can be for some to get, grow from, and build on this positive experience." - POV

“A poignant and often powerful study of hope and ambition in overcoming severe social disadvantages.” – Chicagoland Soccer

“Kartemquin at its best.” – Chicago Reader

“Wondrous, gentle, assured…compassionate.” – Newcity Film