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Debate Team

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Debate Team explores the strange subculture of competitive college debate. Competitors battle at 360 words per minute, hauling around mountains of evidence, and nearly every debate ends in global nuclear annihilation.

But back in 1969, debates were slower, more theatrical, and less technical. At the 1969 National Championship, a debate team from Harvard prevailed over the University of Houston. And Michael Miller from the Houston team has never been able to let go of that defeat. Miller, now a retired lawyer, discusses his life-long obsession with debate, his suicidal ideation, his ruined romances, and the self-hate borne of the loss to Harvard 37 years earlier.

In 2005, some 200 teams converged on San Francisco State to compete in the National Championship. Debate Team follows four teams: Michigan State, Harvard, West Georgia, and Berkeley. As the competitors are slowly eliminated, we are left wondering who will find themselves inheriting Miller's legacy. What emerges is not simply a chronicle of the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, but an examination into the nature of competition itself and the American fetish with championships and champions.

[Original air date: Sun, Jul 19, 2009]

This program is not currently scheduled for broadcast.

Filmmaker Profiles:

B. Douglas Robbins

Read more about B. Douglas Robbins, filmmaker of Debate Team.

Joseph Walling

Read more about Joseph W. Walling, filmmaker of Debate Team.


Debate Team: Crew & Credits

Edited, Produced, and Directed by
B. Douglas Robbins

Producer and Director of Photography
Joseph W. Walling

Original Music by
Ian M. Gray
Josh Seidenfeld

Additional Music by
John Kusiak

Associate Producers
Erin I. Robbins
Heather Boshears
Louisa Hufstader

Greg Achten
Nader Alsheikh
David Arnett
Stefan Bauschard
Kristina Bell
Paul Bellinger Jr.
Joe Bellon
Nupi Bhushan
Nick Bormann
Phil Bouska
John Bretthauer
Jon Bruschke
Jeff Buntin
Josh (Justin) Carrer
Joseph Carver
Eric Chalfant
Robert S. Chaudoin
Ishita Chordia
Kathryn Clark
Josh Coffman
Avery Dale
Michael Davis
Ben Dodds
James Durkee
Erica A. Eaton
Michael Eber
Jonah Feldman
Morgan Fine
Amanda Freel
Cyrus Ghavi
Nathan Gorelick
Mike Greenstein
Sherry Hall
Aaron Hardy
Thomas Hardy
Christine Hardy
Michael Hester
Justin Hingtgen
Julie Hoehn
Sarah Holbrook
Jan Hovden
Anthony Jardina
Walid Kandeel
Ivo Keller
Matt Kennedy
Michael Klinger
Joe Koehle
Priya Krishna
Peter Lawson
Ed Lee
Joel Lemuel
Anna Litman
Andy Liu
Brendan Liverman
Paul E. Mabrey III
Luis Magallon
Calum Matheson
Jonathan McCartney
Ben Meiches
Mike Meredith
Michael Miller
Morgan Miller
Jordan Mills
Brenda Montes
Alexander More
Nima Nasirharandi
Stacey Nathan
Litta Naukushu
Sunil Pai
Victoria S. Palomo
Dallas Perkins
David Peterson
Sue Peterson
Steve Pointer
Jacob Polin
Chris Pozzi
Justin Racette
Gaurav Reddy
Jaipaul Rekhi
William Repko
Daniel Richards
Michael Richardson
Ross Richendrfer
Caress Russell
Jason Russell
Matt Schissler
Beth Schueler
David Sepetka
William Shanahan
Reid Shannon
Eric Short
Libby Simas
Eric Slusher
Brian Smith
Gordon Stables
Greta Stahl
David Strauss
Eric Suni
Elliot S. Tarloff
James Thomas
Corey Turoff
Shaun VanHorn
Matt Vega
Amber Watkins
Kristina Whalen
Shawn Whalen
Craig Wickersham
Ravenna Wilson
and Erin I. Robbins as the Big Board Girl

Special Appreciation to Those from the Debate Community
Filmed But Not Featured

Margaret K. Berthiaume
Joshua K. Boggs
Sam Bolgert
Jamie Carroll
Noah Chestnut
Kelly Congdon
Scott Deatherage
Sarah Doran
Steven Andrew Ellis
Cody Forrester
John Foy
Ryan Galoway
Desean Garnett
Jeanie Gong
Joshua Gonzalez
Todd Graham
Justin Green
Lauren Green
Jairus Victor Grove
Brad Hall
Michael P. Hamburg
Josh Hoe
Brian Honeyman
Alex Iftimie
Aaron Kell
Justin Kirk
Beth Kloser
Kathy Ku
Blaine Labron
Jean Paul Lacey
Bob Lechtreck
Rena Levy
Stephen Li
Allan D. Louden
Micah Lutkowitz
Neha Malik
Danny Mapes
Jeremy Martin
Eric Marlow
Brian McBride
Laurel Moeslein
James Mollison
Eric Morris
Edward Mugica, Jr.
Toni Nielson
Keith Ochwat
Charles Olney
Gabreille Prisco
Dana Randall
Benjamin Ryu
Phil Samuels
Chip Schwad
Stevie Seibert
David P. Seikel
Mike Shakelford
Dan Shalmon
Wesley Sharer
Igor Shleypak
Tejinder Singh
Michael Smith
Ryan Sturges
Chris Sun
Christina Vitolo
Heather Walters
Danielle R. Wiese
Wendy Yuan

Shake Master
Joe W. Walling

Director of Marketing Design
Patrick McKowen

California Alumni Advisors
Darek Defreece
Jonathan Hersey

Post-Prodution Sound
Berkeley Sound Artists
James LeBrecht
Patti Tauscher
Alex Wilmer

Video Transfer
Rough House Editorial

Legal Counsel
Courtesy of the Stanford Law School's Fair Use Project
Anthony Falzone, Esq.
Julie Ahrens, Esq.
Brandy Karl, Esq.

Damon Tribble
M. Tucker Bradford

3D Party Media Courtesy of
20th Century Fox Film Corp.
Adbusters Media Foundation
Atlantic Records
Homer H. Boelter
Hieronymus Bosch
California Department of Health Services
Camelot Co. Ltd./Nintendo
The Catholic Church
CSTV Networks, Inc.
Bill English
President and Fellows of Harvard College
Houston Chronicle
Houstonian Year Book
Houston Post
Estate of Vince Lombardi
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Michael Miller
The National Debate Tournament
Hans van den Nieuwendijk (Pond 5)
Roc-A-Fella Records and The Island Def Jam Music Group
U.S. Department of Defense
Benjamin West

Patrons of the Arts
Alice Gray
Harvard Robbins
Sean Lever
Belinda Campos
Timothy F. O'Leary
Frank and Mae Yuen
Lewis Reagan
Jane Teel
Elana Hulsey
Old Republic Title
Anjali Vats

Grateful Acknowledgements
California Alumni Association
The Cross Examination Debate Association
The L.A. Final Cut Pro User's Group (LAFCPUG)
One Post Street
Joel Perwin
Pond 5
Town Hall Theatre Co. of Lafayette
David Seikel
Spartan Debate Institute at Michigan State University

Our Critics
Debra Allison
Ethan Allison
M. Tucker Bradford
Rebecca Cate
Martin Cate
Christine Karscig
Greg Land
Jay McGowan
JP McGowan
Linda McGowan
Tim Norberg
Jamie Viviano
Susanna Youree
Hal Zawacki

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