About Hoop Warrior

Hoop Warrior’ explores the undeniable connection between basketball and the socio-political context of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory. Highlighting the transformative power of sports in disenfranchised communities, and the role of young athletes uplifting them.

Through Jorge Matos’ journey, a professional basketball player who transitions from street basketball beyond national level in Puerto Rico, depicting the challenges, and rewards of Latinx athletes. Presenting the physical and psychological efforts required to succeed as a high-performance athlete. Exploring the rehabilitation process, and reclaiming one's place in sports after an injury.

Hoop Warrior examines Latinx international sports representation and its effects. Jorge Matos' FIBA 3x3 World Cup Gold Medal in 2021 –during the pandemic– exemplifies representation’s impact for Puerto Rican athletes and its youth. There’s potential for such visibility for Puerto Rico and Latinx athletes, during a fiscal crisis and ongoing post-disaster recovery.

Through Jorge Matos' story, ‘Hoop Warrior’ spotlights the sacrifices required to succeed in such a highly competitive field. Lastly, our film highlights the profound impact that sports can have on talented individuals hailing from communities in need.

Directors Statement

My connection to this story is deeply personal. The subject of our documentary, Jorge Matos, is my oldest nephew. I’ve had the privilege of witnessing his journey and growth in basketball since he was only seven years old. From his struggles to his triumphs, I’ve been there every step of the way. His story of overcoming chronic asthma through sports has been particularly inspiring. As a filmmaker, I bring not only a familial connection but also a profound understanding and appreciation for his resilience.

As a woman of color and Latinx filmmaker, I see documentary filmmaking as an artistic journey into the human experience. I like to discover what is beneath the surface and beyond the image. I've always questioned “the image,” even as a child. I feel documentary filmmaking allows us to deconstruct images, dive in, and bring the stories’ deeper meaning to the surface. It's where the true beauty lies in storytelling.

This is why I’m a documentary filmmaker: I seek to capture and explore the truth of my subjects. Because I believe in empathy, my work is an introspection that reveals the extraordinary in the ordinary. I aim to show the interconnectedness of daily life and how we can see ourselves in others. I always find that it’s in the “simple spaces” where we find extraordinary stories that need and deserve to be told. I’ve drawn inspiration from films like "Man on Wire" (2008) and "Buena Vista Social Club" (1999), as well as the Latin American Cinema movements.

Through this process, I'll be able to closely witness aspects of my culture I've never experienced before. As a filmmaker shaped by the Puerto Rican diaspora, this project has already challenged me, as I’ve gone back to my roots through some unfamiliar and unexpected filmmaking scenarios. I’m excited about these challenges and the lessons to come.

‘Hoop Warrior’ represents the beginning of my legacy as a filmmaker who is also a woman of color. Further, through exploring our athletes’ stories, I believe our film will serve Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans, and the Latinx community at large. I believe in ‘Hoop Warrior’: this is a story that must be told.

Melisa Ramos