“Stephen Curry: Underrated” Documentary Opened SFFILM Festival at Grand Lake Theater

A young mixed race basketball player wearing a red jersey speaks into a mic after a game
Photo from Stephen Curry: Underrated.

A new documentary by local filmmaker Peter Nicks will be released this summer on July 21, 2023, via Apple TV+. Stephen Curry: Underrated, focuses on the origin story of Curry: his roots during his childhood and college days, and what led him to become an NBA championship player and the greatest NBA shooter of all time.

The film premiered at Sundance earlier this year, and had its California premiere as part of the SFFILM Festival last Thursday at Oakland’s Grand Lake Theater.

An African American Man with black rimmed glasses stands in front of a brown background for a photo
Producer Ryan Coogler at the SF Film Festival Opening Night film, Stephen Curry: Underrated. Photo by Momo Chang.

Producer Ryan Coogler, who is from Oakland, and director Nicks, both appeared on stage to introduce the film at two screenings last Thursday night.

Coogler told Oakland Voices prior to the screening that having roots in Oakland and the Bay Area impacts the way he tells stories. “The Bay Area, with all of its diversity, it makes you realize certain ideas, certain concepts, are universal,” Coogler said. “Even though they might be overlooked, even though they might be underrepresented in media or in mainstream storytelling, mainstream news, you know that those stories are there and universal.”

Coogler, who was born in Oakland and spent a big part of his childhood here, says that creatives from Oakland may exceed peoples’ expectations.

“In Oakland, we kind of punch beyond our weight in a lot of ways, to all facets of life: education, art, entertainment, culture,” Coogler told Oakland Voices. “I think it’s the amount of different types of people that are here, it’s the location, physically, the climate, the political history. And also I think being next to San Francisco, it kind of adds a little bit of a chip, an underdog nature.”

Director Peter Nicks with Producer Erick Peyton at the SF Film Festival’s Opening Night. Photo by Momo Chang

Nicks is known for his hard-hitting documentaries looking at Oakland’s institutions: Highland Hospital (The Waiting Room), the police department (The Force), and Oakland’s public schools (Homeroom). His trilogy of films focused on highly the human side of these institutions. Nicks says he sees similar parallels between his previous films and the Curry documentary.

“Oakland is a city that for a long time, has been misunderstood, stereotyped, not seen, and a lot of work that we were doing was humanizing the city by going into its institutions and telling human stories,” Nicks told Oakland Voices just before the Grand Lake Theater screening. “Then along came this opportunity to tell Step’s story. Steph is one man, one athlete, but he’s also a Bay Area institution. And he reflects that sort of reality of being overlooked, being misunderstood, not seen.”

In addition to Ryan Coogler, Zinzi Coogler, who is also from Oakland (and Ryan’s wife), is an executive producer. The film is produced by Proximity Media, Apple Original Films, Curry’s Unanimous Media, and A24. Proximity Media was founded by Ryan and Zinzi Coogler, and Sev Ohanian, and co-founded by Ludwig Göransson, Archie Davis and Nicks.

The SFFILM Festival runs through April 23, with closing night film highlighting another Oakland filmmaker, Boots Riley. The first four episodes of Riley’s I’m A Virgo series for Prime Video will bookend the festival.

Author Profile

Momo Chang is a freelance journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the Oakland Voices Co-Director. Her work focuses on healthcare, immigration, education, Asian American communities, food and culture. She is a former staff writer at the Oakland Tribune. Momo has received journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for investigative reporting and the Asian American Journalists Association, among others. Her work has appeared in the East Bay Express, San Francisco Chronicle, Wired, and The New York Times. Momo is primarily a print journalist who also produces audio and visual stories for documentary film and radio. She is a Senior Contributing Editor for Hyphen and formerly the Content Manager at the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).

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