True North: Inside the Rise of Toronto Basketball

New Canadian documentary shows polarizing sides of grassroots basketball

The past few years have seen a boom in Canadian basketball talent like never before. From Andrew Wiggins to Jamal Murray, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and R.J. Barrett, Southern Ontario has become a hotbed for basketball talent.

Today the Greater Toronto Area is packed with grassroots basketball programs and children vying to become the next Canadian basketball star.

For 31-year-old filmmaker Ryan Sidhoo, Toronto's basketball burgeoning basketball community presented a fascinating story and an opportunity to get back to his basketball roots.

His new documentary, "True North: Inside the Rise of Toronto Basketball" came out on Tuesday on the National Film Board's website and YouTube page as well as Red Bull TV.

"Basketball was something that was a passion of my household coming from my dad," said Sidhoo, a Vancouver native. "So I grew up with that in my DNA, and on the other hand, I got into filmmaking."

The documentary spans two years and tells the story of three Canadian boys trying to navigate Canada's grassroots basketball world. The boys come from very different athletic backgrounds and the documentary forces the viewer to contemplate the impact of hoop dreams.

"We kind of play with this idea of making it or what is making it?" Sidhoo said. "Obviously it's a beautiful story that kids believe they could make the NBA and they can make it, but I think the definition of making it needs to change a little bit because if by 16 years old you know you're not going to make it then your failure. But if we change the definition of making, ... you can still be involved in the industry basketball and get paid from basketball and be around the game and then that could still satisfy your love for the game. When we're just saying you can be the next LeBron James and that's the only way to make it, that's quite dangerous."

That darker side of the industry really concerned Sidhoo who said it made him look at the basketball world very differently.

 "It's sad because what's happening is that basically the kids are becoming a commodity at 12 years old," Sidhoo said. "It was just a tough pill to swallow to see how much of a business it is and how exploitative it is."

The full documentary can be found below or on the National Film Board's or Red Bull TV's website.