AULCIE – A Review by John Strange
In 1976, Aulcie Perry from New Newark NJ, the last man cut from the NY Knicks that year went on to become a legend playing basketball, in Israel. And then, as the film tells us in the introduction, he disappeared.
The story presented to us, how Aulcie rose to fame and then flamed out, is told using video, still images, and drawings. The narrative basically follows along as the legendary basketball player explains his life to the daughter, Cierra, he knew he had but is just meeting for the first time since her birth.
This is the story of a young man, born in the Deep South and raised in Newark NJ, who by the age of 13, was living for the game of basketball. His skill got him out of the ghetto. His sister, Bernadine Perry-Davis, likened him to a superstar basketball player in high school and he excelled in his college years. This got him a call from the New York Knicks.
But, at the end of the pre-season, Aulcie was let go in favor of a player with more experience. Come September, Aulcie is playing in the championship game for the city summer league. Shamluk Maharovsky, (Maccabi Tel Aviv Manager) watches him playing at Madison Square Garden. He says that he said, “God, give me this man!”
The Maccabi manager made the young man an offer to come to Israel and play basketball for his team. After he, and his family and friends had a moment to consider the offer, the chance to get out of the ghetto, Aulcie takes the offer and goes to the Middle East to play basketball!
Aulcie shines on the team, becoming a leader. The team does amazingly well with the 6’10” triple-threat player, winning the European Championship the first year! After that, the team continued its win streak. The people of Israel adore him!
But as time goes on, injuries start to happen. Life has a way of slapping us when we don’t listen to it and that’s happened to Aulcie. Pain medication is great until you get hooked. And his rise leveled out and began its plummet.
This story is not really about drugs though that demon had a big part to play in the baller’s life. They damaged his career and his private life but only because he couldn’t make himself go through the door for rehab. This is a man who, despite mistakes and missteps, never loses his dignity.
I love that the film shows the good and the bad. Aulcie never tries to say it was someone else’s fault. The game footage does not overwhelm the story. The director uses the media available very well and uses live interviews to their best advantage giving us a well rounded look at a man that the people state of Israel came to love.
Aulcie and Aulcie Perry is a very good example of why we need documentaries like this to show us parts of the world and its people we would never know of otherwise. Director Dani Merkin has a deft hand at this profession. Her film’s flow and pace are as close to perfection as any film I have seen in quite some time. Whether you love or hate basketball, this is a 5-star documentary!
This film is part of the 8th annual Israel Film Center Festival set for June 7-14, 2020. For more information: https://israelfilmcenterstream.org/festival/.
Directed by: Dani Menkin
Cast: Aulcie Perry, Tami Ben-Ami, Shmuel Mahrovsky, Tal Brody, Shimon Mizrahi, Simi Riger, Earl Williams
MPAA Rating: NR
Selig Rating: 5 Stars
Runtime: 75 Min.
8th annual Israel Film Center Festival: Screening Availability: Saturday, June 13, at 8:30 p.m. – Sunday, June 14, at 8:30 p.m., Q&A: Sunday, June 14, at 6 p.m.
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
4 Stars – Good movie
3 Stars – OK movie
2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.