Filmed in a middle school gymnasium in suburban Japan, Goshogaoka takes as its ostensible subject the exercise routines and drills of a girls basketball team. The film consists of six 10-minute takes, shot with a fixed camera at court level, in which the various cadences of chanting voices and bodily movements digress into distinct studies. Taken together they construct a subtle and multi-layered social portrait, a portrait framed within a study of choreographed movements (the routines, etc.) and therefore one in which documentary values are quickly inseparable from aesthetic ones.  And as there are no games, scrimmages, or barking coaches here, just the girls and their routines, the image is not so much one of contest and gamesmanship but of individuation within a scene of group cooperation.

Sharon Lockhart’s Goshogaoka is presented by The Jewish Museum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center in conjunction with the exhibition Sharon Lockhart | Noa Eshkol on view at the Museum through March 24.