‘Finding Big Country’ documentary review
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
While I do not know a lot about the Vancouver Grizzlies, I know that they were part of the Vancouver sports scene in the 1990s. Since the team moved to Memphis in 2001, it seems like no one in the city knows about them anymore. Their history is erased, with no commemorative displays in Vancouver dedicated to them.
However, there are still superfans of the team, including local Vancouver filmmaker Kat Jayme. She knows that the biggest star of the Vancouver Grizzlies was Bryant Reeves, nicknamed “Big Country” because he is very tall—and I mean as in Yao Ming tall. He had been out of the public eye since the team left Vancouver in 2001, until last year when Jayme went on a search to find her basketball role model and made a documentary about her hunt: Finding Big Country. The film did very well in the Vancouver Film Festival this year, had long lines with Vancouver Grizzlies fans, and won the Must-See BC Award which was determined by the audience.
Jayme begins by asking the people who knew Reeves if they know where he is. It seems like she’s out of luck until she finds a story by The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel about Reeves’ current whereabouts, which leads her to go to Gans, Oklahoma. She interviews more people whom Big Country knew to get more clues of his whereabouts. She finally finds him in his ranch which is in a remote part of the city. We find out that he has been doing well after he retired from basketball because of injuries and he is now a successful cow farmer. Also, we learn more about Jayme and how her story is similar to Reeves’ because she tried out for the UBC Women’s Basketball team but did not make it.
The documentary being presented with a scope aspect ratio makes it more epic. It should be seen on the big screen, though I had to watch it in the internet. It has a nostalgic aspect with archival footage of Big Country from Jayme’s video collection being played in her VCR, as well as with cassette tapes being seen. With a running time of 42 minutes, the filmmakers have squeezed what feels like an hour-and-30-minute documentary into that length. While the movie could have been longer, it works either way.
The Vancouver Grizzlies not winning a lot of games led to the team leaving Vancouver. If they had been winning games, perhaps Big Country would have played basketball longer. Another thing to point out is that he played with some of the greatest players in the NBA including Shaquille O’Neil, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and Dennis Rodman. If the Vancouver Grizzlies were still in Vancouver, we could have had a rivalry between them and the Toronto Raptors.
As a result of this documentary, the team is starting to get more recognition. Some of Reeves’ memorabilia are now in the BC Sports Hall of Fame, which now has a display dedicated to the Vancouver Grizzlies replacing a signed NBA basketball. Finding Big Country shows all the reasons why the Vancouver Grizzlies should be more appreciated and why Vancouver should have an NBA team again. Finding Big Country can be seen on Storyhive’s YouTube channel.