Salt Spring Film Festival - Filmmaker Profile - Yoni Marmorstein

Yoni Marmorstein is a 25 year old Salt Spring resident, raised here since age 5, whose life path was directed by a happy accident. On a trip to South Africa in 2010 to volunteer coaching basketball and teaching life skills to South African youth through an organization called Hoops 4 Hope, his camera broke. Instead of replacing it with another regular camera, he bought a camcorder. That changed everything. He wanted to document his time there as any travelling youth would, but it ended up going much further than that.

Volunteering with Hoops 4 Hope led him into a friendship with Head Coach Lala, who we see a lot of in A Day in A Life - The Hoops for Hope Story. Marmorstein stayed with Lala in his shack in the township of Khayelitsha and got to know him and the basketball players on his team. Because of his relationship with Lala, a trusted and respected member of the community, he was accepted and was granted an intimacy that made the film possible. He was able to provide a realistic portrayal of what a regular day is like for a young person with a dream to play professional basketball in South Africa.

During his original trip in 2010, since he had a camcorder in hand, Hoops 4 Hope founder Mark Crandall asked Yoni to take some footage of the team’s upcoming trip to Zimbabwe for a game. It meant sharing a small school bus, built to transport small children, with 8 giant sized basketball players for a 2000 km trip. Of course he agreed. Some of that footage is included in the film. At the time he made an 8 1/2 minute short that he posted on YouTube.

He came back to Canada and decided to learn more about his camera. He took it with him to Nunavut to do some more shooting while he worked with an organization called Soccer 4 Hope. Out of that came an 8 1/2 minute film called Soccer 4 Hope Nunavut and some money to finance the next steps on his journey. The Nunavut sports groups paid his and his colleague’s wages and also donated money to Hoops 4 Hope.

He enrolled in a 2 month intensive course at Pull Focus Documentary Film School in Vancouver. During his time there he collaborated with fellow students on a 10 minute film called Kids On The Block. It’s about a community on the Downtown East Side that regularly invites people into their home for meals. They entered the film into the Bellingham Film Festival, the only one they sent it to, and won Best Short Documentary.

He knew he wanted to pursue the story he’d started in South Africa so he set up a blog to generate support for a longer film. Through those efforts he raised $2500. An additional $700 was donated to him from the Alumni Basketball Game here on Salt Spring in 2011, 75% of which he left in Zimbabwe for their Hoops 4 Hope program.

In 2011 he returned to South Africa with better equipment, more education and knowledge about film making and an idea that he’d make a feature length film. This was when the concept for A Day in A Life - The Hoops 4 Hope Story was born. He and Lala spent 3 months shooting footage of each of the players on the team throughout their daily lives. Then he went to Thailand where he spent countless hours editing the 2 terabytes of footage he had. In May 2012 he returned to South Africa where he spent 2 weeks with Lala, during which time Lala did the narration you hear in the film.

Just this past January our local cinema, The Fritz, did a screening of the film as a fundraiser for transportation to bring Coach Lala to Salt Spring so he and Marmorstein can tour high schools showing the film and talking with students.

This isn’t a promotional film per se, but Marmorstein feels that if awareness of the Hoops 4 Hope program increases, and awareness generates support for the program, that can only be a good thing.

His experience in South Africa impacted his life greatly. He sees now how video can provide awareness, tell a story, bring a vision to life, much more effectively than a blog. He cites Spike Lee as one of the filmmakers he most admires.

A Day in A Life - The Hoops for Hope Story will screen at the Salt Spring Film Festival on March 1-March 2 at GISS. Yoni Marmorstein will be there to participate in a discussion about the film. Weekend passes for the Film Festival are on sale through the Artspring Box Office.

To find out more information about the Salt Spring Film Festival go to:

To view any of the films mentioned above go to:

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By Salt Spring Film Festival

The 21st annual Salt Spring Film Festival runs from February 28 to March 1, 2020. Our monthly "Best of the Fests" film series continues at ArtSpring on October 16 and November 13, 2019.

February 6, 2014 11:01 AM