The WNBA doesn’t get the respect that it deserves. That’s just a fact. Broadly, we live in a time where it always seems like there’s a war on women in general going on, so it’s not shocking that a female sports league would be considered somehow inferior, incorrect as that assumption might be. That take provides the inspiration for the documentary Unfinished Business. Playing at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival, it’s a tribute to larger than life figures who are treated like they barely exist. Showing them in an intimate yet properly reverential manner, this doc has a lot to offer at the fest, but just for non-fiction sports cinema in general.
Unfinished Business looks at the WNBA’s fight to be accepted as you would any upstart disrupter. There’s something compelling to watching stud athletes be treated like second class citizens, since you know everyone dismissing them are so inferior to them, talent wise. The worst player in the WNBA could still run circles around you and I (at once, too), so to not give them respect is just wild to me. The documentary makes good use of that, too.
This is the story of how a women’s basketball league spun off from the National Basketball Association has attempted to shake up the sports world. Back in 1997, the NBA made history by creating a women’s division, dubbed the WNBA. The first team to be created in the league was none other than the New York Liberty, with Kym Hampton and Rebecca Lobo among their inaugural stars. Initially, the team was massively successful, as were several other teams in the WNBA, but that hasn’t prevented the league from facing many an obstacle. Homophobia and sexism are just two of the things players face, blocking them from a sense of true legitimacy. It’s not just the Liberty, either, as the doc showcases.
As the history of the team and the league is shown, the 2021 WNBA season for the Liberty is depicted. Will it be the year that the club finally reaches the promised land? Can it be a watershed time for the league? Obviously, there are answers to be found, but Unfinished Business is far more focused on just letting the talent of these ladies wash over you.
Filmmaker Alison Klayman wants you to care about the WNBA in a way you likely have not before. To that end, she makes Unfinished Business about appreciating the talent of these players, using some really impressive clips. It’s a simple doc, to be sure, but there’s an effectiveness to just being in awe of these women.
Unfinished Business is obviously for sports fans, but anyone can enjoy this David vs Goliath tale. Whether the WNBA ever truly takes its place next to the NBA is still to be determined, but watching these talented women fight for respect is what a good sports doc is made of. Playing at Tribeca this year, the movie deserves to find an audience, both during the festival and after it comes to an end.