I only fully taught Hoop Dreams one time while teaching. I had used it as a substitute in Milwaukee Public Schools (if I did not receive lesson plans for the day). I knew the movie was special because it was a documentary that kept kids' attention better than Space Jam.
If you're teaching an American Dream unit, consider this film. If you are teaching in an urban school with half the class telling you their main goal in life is to become an NBA star or a rapper, then you need to use this film. Assignment has students choose five characters and answer six questions for each one = 30 points. You can easily double it or have each student cover one character and discuss for the whole class.
When I researched pro football several years ago, the numbers were basically like this" 1% of varsity players get into a D1 college program and 1% of Division 1 college players make it to the pros. Don't destroy dreams or become the teacher that gets ripped on when the kids makes it big, but encourage them to have a backup. Being able to analyze literature is one skill that might help. Being able to see when someone else is pushing you in order to live through you is another.
Keep in mind that the film Hoop Dreams was used successfully in a suburban school, too. Kids in every school have dreams of easy money as some kind of entertainer or instant CEO, so the story and this assignment can apply to all schools.
If you have not seen the film, watch it. You might wonder why Forrest Gump beat it out for the Oscar, or you might think Above the Rim or Boyz in the Hood are better at capturing a similar vibe. If you like it and want to use it, get this assignment. Works well as group work and for discussion.
If you're looking for a film that helps your staff understand what it's like for kids who don't look like them to grow up in a big city with unattainable dreams and pressure from entire families to fulfill the dreams, this is the one for you. Probably as important to understanding urban education as Mean Girls is to suburban education (joking a little).