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TFF pics nine for sports fest

The world premiere of Big Shot has been selected as the gala screening at the seventh annual Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival, which also features the latest film by Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg.

The nine-strong features roster embraces previously announced titles from other sections of the festival as well as four films from ESPN Films’ Nine For IX documentary celebrating the 40th anniversary of Title IX with nine films about women in sports directed by female film-makers. 

The 2013 Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival will run during the 12th edition of the Tribeca Film Festival (TFF), which runs from Apr 17-28.

“The sports film offerings at this year’s festival give sports fans and movie buffs tremendous opportunities to experience the many ways that sports intersect with our culture,” said TFF director of programming Genna Terranova. “We are excited that Big Shot, which chronicles one of the most infamous sagas in professional sports management history, will kick-off this year’s Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival, and to share the range of these personal stories seem through the lens of sports.”

“There are many vibrant, independent voices out there telling incredible sports stories and we’re honoured to be involved with the Tribeca Film Festival where together we can shine a light on these documentaries and film-makers,” said ESPN Films vp Connor Schell. “We produce our films with the intention of capturing both the glory and the heartbreak of what sports mean to so many people and we are very proud of the creative, story-driven documentaries that were selected for this year’s festival.”

In addition to the film series, the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival will present the free community event Sports Day as part of the Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair. Sports Day will take place on Apr 27.

TRIBECA/ESPN SPORTS FILM FESTIVAL LINE-UP

Gala

Big Shot (pictured, USA), dir Kevin Connolly
In 1996, John Spano, a previously unknown Dallas business mogul, bought the New York Islanders for $165m. 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.
World Premiere, Documentary.

The following Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival titles have been announced in their respective sections as part of the 2013 TFF film programme:

McConkey (USA), dirs Steve Winter, Murray Wais, Scott Gaffney, David Zieff and Rob Bruce
An all-star roster of sports film-making talent directs this biography of extreme ski trailblazer Shane McConkey, once described as “the most influential skier ever.” McConkey covers 40 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?
World Premiere, Documentary.

Lenny Cooke (USA) dirs Benny Safdie and Joshua Safdie
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 not played a single minute in the NBA.
World Premiere, Documentary

The Trials Of Muhammad Ali (USA), dir Bill Siegel
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 US 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 recognisable figures in sports history.
World Premiere, Documentary.

The Motivation (USA), dir Adam Bhala Lough
Enter the lives and training regimes of eight of the world’s most fearless professional skateboarders. These stars face unique obstacles on the way to the Street League Championship and the coveted title of best skateboarder in the world. Adam Bhala Lough, creator of the 2003 independent hit Bomb The System (TFF 2003), directs this documentary in search of the elusive quality that separates the winners from the pack. Features Nyjah Huston, Ryan Sheckler, Chris Cole, Paul Rodriguez, Sean Malto, Rob Dyrdek, Chaz Ortiz, Luan Oliveira, and Bastien Salabanzi. In English, Portuguese with subtitles.
World Premiere, Documentary

Special Screenings from the Nine For IX series

Pat XO (USA), dirs Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern Winters
In August 2011, Pat Summitt, college basketball’s most successful coach, stunned the sport when she announced 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 with grace, humour and the support of each other.
World Premiere, Documentary

The Diplomat (USA), dirs Senain Kheshgi and Jennifer Arnold
At the height of the Cold War, ice skater Katarina Witt became one of East Germany’s most famous athletes, winning six European titles, five 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 fell under constant surveillance from the Stasi.
World Premiere, Documentary

No Limits (USA), dir Alison Ellwood
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.
World Premiere, Documentary

Let Them Wear Towels (USA), dirs Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg
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, humourous retaliation, angry lawsuits and remarkable resolve that went into the struggle for equal access for women reporters.
World Premiere, Documentary

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