Directed by Akin Omotoso and written by Arash Amel, Disney’s Rise is based on a true story of three young brothers finding success in the NBA. The couple, Charles and Vera Antetokounmpo want to lead better lives, so they pack up their belongings and leave Nigeria for Greece. With five children, Vera and Charles struggle to find jobs that will provide for them while also worrying about the threat of deportation. The Antetokounmpo family works together to sell gifts and souvenirs in Athens. However, the two older brothers come across an opportunity to play basketball for a temporary escape from reality. But their dreams seem out of reach as illegal immigrants.
Here’s the scoop on the biographical film, Rise!
Sacrifice for the Family
This Disney film has a few moments where sacrifices have to be made in order to move forward. When Charles and Vera are planning to leave Nigeria for a chance at a better life, they become aware that they must leave their young child at home due to the unknown dangers and complications of immigration. The band-aid doesn’t come off until Vera and her oldest son, Giannis, have a heart-to-heart conversation. Throughout the film, Charles expresses hesitation when it comes to his sons’ success as professional basketball players. But he realizes that they are gifted and risks everything for them. The sacrifices become the drive to achieve success.
Even though not every viewer is able to relate to keeping the family together as illegal immigrants, we all stand on equal ground when it comes to sacrifices in daily life. Being that the movie is based on a true story, the storytelling elicits a new level of depth to the heartbreaking moments.
Since moving from Africa to Greece, the Antetokounmpo family go through a constant struggle to make ends meet. Vera and Charles seem to have deep-rooted guilt about their kids wanting to live normal lives. It isn’t till their sons want to play basketball at a youth camp that they noticeably run into money issues. However, the family is forced to wake up from their dreams when they are locked out of their home.
For the Antetokounmpo family, playing basketball professionally looks like a faraway dream. The close bond between the brothers and the rest of the family helps them cope with their shortcomings. Rise directly calls out immigrants that face many obstacles in the midst of wanting to live their dreams.
African Culture & Immigration
One of the most important parts of Rise that give way to African culture is the reliance on family. Giannis comes close to achieving his dream as a professional basketball player but has to make a tough decision to leave his family behind. The stunning support of family is what makes Rise a story that everyone should know about.
There are plenty of moments where many families are separated or threatened to be separated due to deportation. If you weren’t already keenly aware of families being separated from each other on a daily basis all around the world, this Disney film makes you even more aware of it. In the Antetokounmpo family’s case, they have to keep themselves under the radar while living in Greece. Charles works multiple jobs while the rest of the family sells souvenirs to tourists. But the most difficult part is the qualification process for residency. The audience is able to easily place themselves in Charles and Vera’s shoes as they try to find every possible way to live a stable life.
While it seems that Rise isn’t the first to introduce a struggling family to fame story, the Disney movie beautifully depicts three Nigerian-Greek boys’ dreams of becoming basketball players that everyone will remember. If you need confidence and determination to take the next step toward your dreams, Rise will give you that.
Watch Rise exclusively on Disney+ on June 24th!
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