Rice Field of Dreams
As a boy Joe Cook fled the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia to make a life for himself in America. 30 years later he decides he wants to bring a gift back to his homeland - the gift of baseball. "Rice Field of Dreams" is a feature-length documentary that follows the journey of Cambodia's First National Baseball Team as they prepare for and participate in the 24th Sea Games, an Olympics-like sports competition between South East Asian nations to be held in Bangkok. For the 22 young players Joe assembled and trained over the previous five years it is their first venture outside of their farming villages. Along the way we experience the texture of daily life in these villages; meet the American coaches who have donated their time; and travel with the team to the culture shock-inducing city of Bangkok for the competition. But most of all, we experience the drama of the team's five games. No one expects these rookies to best the competition their first time out, but nonetheless emotions run high. How well will they do? Will they even get a hit? How many hits? How many runs? They are representing their country and they want to succeed. In the tradition of such acclaimed sports documentaries as "Hoop Dreams" and "When We Were Kings", the film has it all: drama, humor, an exotic location and an athletic competition. Plus, a West-meets-East dynamic and an engaging cast of characters. But most of all "Rice Field of Dreams" has heart. As the final shots of the film assert, baseball is a gift to upcoming Cambodian generations and Joe Cook, complicated as he is, should be commended for offering such a gift.