A documentary set against the East Los Angeles backdrop of one of the country’s biggest high school football rivalries, Billy McMillin’s rousing “The All-Americans” serves as a timely take on finding one’s identity both on and off the field.
Established in 1925, the East L.A. Classic has drawn crowds in excess of 25,000, gathering each November to see Theodore Roosevelt High’s Rough Riders take on James A. Garfield High’s Bulldogs in a part of the city that’s home to the largest immigrant Latino population in the world.
Among them is the Rough Riders’ passionate coach Javier Cid, whose team has long been in the underdog position, and senior Mario Ramirez, the team’s all-star wide receiver who’s balancing football with a 3.97 GPA, aiming to be the first person in his family to be a college graduate .
Meanwhile, over on the Garfield team, newly named quarterback Stevie Williams, an African American magnet student from South-Central, fields evident resentment on his home turf as he buses into East L.A. each day through the recruitment outreach of the Bulldogs’ tough coach — and cop by day — Lorenzo Hernandez.
Director McMillin effectively interweaves the involving profiles into the lead-up to the big game, as the young players deal with the pressures placed on them by their respective schools and the expectations of family members, some facing the threat of deportation and other realities of living in Trump-era America.
Running time: 1 hour, 39 minutes
Playing: Starts Nov. 8 in limited release