Ballou Senior High School students face more challenges than most adults will ever have to deal with. That's why the Ballou Senior High School Marching Band is not merely an after school activity or a music collective -- it's a positive influence in their lives. In the documentary film 'Ballou,' Michael Patrei, an alum, goes back to school for a personal portrait of the band, its heroes, struggles and triumphs.

From the practicing rooms to the national competition, marching band music weaves in with familiar sounds (among those: Rihanna's 'Unfaithful'), but there's something more universal in the film than motif recognition: fierce spirit. This is no glitzy feature fiction film. This isn't reality TV either. This is real. The kids are determined, their spirit is raw and this documentary portrait will show you what it really takes to be the best.

Streaming now at SnagFilms, the film focuses on the band's journey from early auditions to national competition and along the way reveals why the tightly knit collective does much more than keep kids off the streets. In a tough neighborhood three miles away from the U.S. Capitol building, Ballou High students spend hours every day practicing, proud to protect their reputation as champions. As one of the girls in the band confesses, "This is my anger management ... I need this."

Much like the filmmaker, band director Darrell Watson is a Ballou alum himself. As are many of the volunteers who put their faith and tireless hours into supporting the collective. The flag girls' choreographer admits, "This is my life." Band director Darrell Watson emerges as a true hero, whether he's keeping the rowdiest kids in line in a practice room with no air conditioning or leading the band in national competition while suddenly struck with an illness.

With supporting commentary by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Congressman John Lewis, Marion Barry, Denyce Graves and Chuck Brown, the documentary proves that the band's positive influence doesn't just extend to its members. It betters the D.C. community, the country and maybe even you. Watch and get inspired.