In the bible, Nimrod was “a mighty hunter before the Lord,” and Watersmeet School (situated as it was in prime UP hunting country) began using the nickname the “Nimrod” in 1904. The small Michigan school was catapulted to the national stage in 1986 when ESPN picked the Nimrods as on of the top sports nicknames.
Tonight the Sundance Channel premiers filmmaker Brett Morgen’s eight-part, four-hour “Nimrod Nation”, a sympathetic observation of small town life against the backdrop of the high school basketball season.
Visit their Nimrod Nation mini-site for a preview and these clips on YouTube. Also check out this favorable review from the LA Times which says that although writers strike based reality TV may be our doom, it won’t be from shows like this one.
It is a sweet film, beautifully shot, with an interest in and sensitivity to light and air, to bodies in space and in motion, to landscape and in detail that can arguably be called love. Where reality TV invites you to judge, “Nimrod Nation” merely asks you to look. You don’t have to like sports particularly — I can say that as one who does not — to go under its spell.
The world it presents, relentlessly sub-zero and covered in white and silence, is at once harsh and enchanted. “This is heaven,” says one resident, out ice fishing in 30-below weather, even as another, much younger, dreams of getting out: “I want to be in a half-decent, warm place,” she declares. (She wants to go to Wisconsin.)