Now that the Tribeca Film Festival has rolled out their impressive feature slate and their massive shorts program, the fest has revealed the complete lineup for their seventh annual Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival. Per the fest, “this year’s film program features a selection of sports and competition-themed films that celebrate competition, passion and teamwork, and reflect the diversity of filmmaking in this genre,” which includes nine films, four of which are a part of ESPN Films’ “Nine for IX” series (a new series focused on celebrating the fortieth anniversary of Title IX, which consists of a full nine documentary films about women in sports directed by outstanding female filmmakers).
The world premiere of Kevin Connolly‘s Big Shot (yes, that Kevin Connolly) will kick off the fest-within-a-fest with a gala screening on April 19th. Connolly’s latest explores John Spano’s fradulent purchase of the New York Islanders in 1997, which ended up being “the biggest fraud in hockey history.”
Check out the full lineup for the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival after the break.
Big Shot, directed by Kevin Connolly. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. In 1997, John Spano, a previously unknown Dallas business mogul, bought the New York Islanders for a whopping $165 million. The future looked bright for the once-legendary team. Then Spano took his seat in the front office. Entourage’s Kevin Connolly takes us behind the scenes of the biggest fraud in hockey history, as Spano’s wealth is revealed to be a lie and his rise to power a brilliantly concocted scheme.
McConkey, directed and written by Steve Winter, Murray Wais, Scott Gaffney, David Zieff, and Rob Bruce. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. An all-star roster of sports movie-making talent directs this heartfelt biography of extreme ski trailblazer Shane McConkey, once described as “the most influential skier ever.” McConkey covers forty years and countless high places to track Shane’s conversion from downhill racer to freeskiing marvel to pioneer of a hair-raising new discipline—ski BASE jumping—giving new meaning to the question, how do you live your life to the fullest?
Lenny Cooke, directed by Benny Safdie and Joshua Safdie. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. In 2001, Lenny Cooke was the most hyped high school basketball player in the country, ranked above future greats LeBron James, Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. A decade later, Lenny has never played a minute in the NBA. In this quintessentially American documentary, filmmaking brothers Joshua and Benny Safdie track the unfulfilled destiny of a man for whom superstardom was only just out of reach.
The Trials of Muhammad Ali, directed by Bill Siegel. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Brash boxer Cassius Clay burst into the American consciousness in the early 1960s, just ahead of the Civil Rights movement. His transformation into the spiritually enlightened heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali is legendary, but this religious awakening also led to a bitter legal battle with the U.S. government after he refused to serve in the Vietnam War. This film reveals the perfect storm of race, religion and politics that shaped one of the most recognizable figures in sports history.
The Motivation, directed by Adam Bhala Lough. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Go inside the lives and training regimes of eight of the world’s gutsiest professional skateboarders. These fearless stars face unique obstacles on the way to the Street League Championship and the coveted title of best street skateboarder in the world. Adam Bhala Lough, creator of the independent hit Bomb the System (TFF 2003), directs this fresh, energetic documentary search for that elusive quality that separates winners from the pack. In English, Portuguese with subtitles.
Special Screenings from the “Nine for IX” series
Pat XO, directed by Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern Winters. Produced by Robin Roberts. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. In August 2011, Pat Summitt, NCAA basketball’s winningest coach, made the stunning announcement that she had early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Before and after resigning in April 2012, the legendary coach and her son, Tyler, have set out to beat this challenge as they had every other—with grace, humor and, most of all, each other. Pat XO tells the remarkable story of this incomparable coach as it has never been told before, straight from the people who knew her best.
The Diplomat, directed by Senain Kheshgi and Jennifer Arnold. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. At the height of the Cold War, Katarina Witt became one of East Germany’s most famous athletes, winning six European titles, four world championships and back-to-back Olympic gold medals. Known as “the most beautiful face of socialism,” she earned unique benefits in East Germany but also constant surveillance from the Stasi, the notorious secret police force.
No Limits, directed by Alison Ellwood. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. Suffering from scoliosis as a teenager, Audrey Mestre found freedom in the ocean. Years later, she discovered another reason to love the water: the elusive, often raucous free diver Pipin Ferreras. As Mestre follows Ferreras’s almost spiritual quest to push his limits underwater, she moves from supporter to ardent free diver to world-class competitor. Then a challenge from a rival pushes the couple to the brink of what is possible, both above and below the surface.
Let Them Wear Towels, directed by Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary. During the 1977 World Series, Sports Illustrated reporter Melissa Ludtke was denied access to the players’ locker room. After a very public fight, the door was opened, but the debate about female journalists in the male sanctum of the clubhouse remained. Through interviews with pioneering female sports writers, Let Them Wear Towels captures the raw behavior, humorous retaliation, angry lawsuits and remarkable resolve that went into the struggle for equal access for women reporters.
The 2013 Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival will run during the 12th edition of Tribeca, April 17th – April 28th at locations around New York City. [Press Release]