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Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Fest Includes Knicks Docs 'When The Garden Was Eden,' Boxing's 'Champs'

Festivals
by Vanessa Martinez
March 17, 2014 1:47 PM
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Documentary 'When The Garden Was Eden'

The Tribeca Film Festival, running April 16-27 in New York City, unveiled its lineup late last week for the 8th Annual Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival, which highlights feature and short independent films focusing on sports and competition, including special conversations and an ESPN 30 for 30 program. 

Michael Rapaport's newest documentary (his last project was 2011's Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest)  When The Garden Was Eden follows the early 70's NY Knicks championship teams, an era when they were at their finest and features interviews with greats Walt "Clyde" Frazier, Earl Monroe, Bill Bradley, Willis Reed and Phil Jackson on their impact and legacy in basketball. Regarding his involvement directing the documentary, Rapaport says, "As a native New York and lifelong Knicks fan it was an honor to explore the Championchip New York Knick teams. Those players have been a part of my vocabulary since i was a child...Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe and Willis Reed are icons of New York city and it's been a privilege to be a part of re-telling the Knicks story."

'Champs'

Also making a world premiere in the festival's program is Bert Marcus boxing documentary Champs, described as an "insightful and provocative" documentary which chronicles the lives of some of America's most successful heavy hitters - Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Bernard Hopkins among them - and their rise from poverty via their personal stories and footage in an effort to understand the meaning of fulfilling the so-called "American Dream" in the highly disparate and fragmented societies between the rich and the poor. 

Take a look at the rest of the program's lineup below:


Intramural 

Directed by Andrew Disney, written by Bradley Jackson (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative -There comes a time in every fifth-year senior’s life where they must either accept the impending ‘real world’ of jobs, marriage, and payment plans or shirk that responsibility in favor of playing the most glorious intramural football game your school probably doesn’t really care to see. In this full throttle and hilarious send-up of inspirational sports movies, director Andrew Disney harnesses every cliché and overused trope to tell the greatest (and only) intramural sports movie of all time. Featuring an ensemble cast including Kate McKinnon, Jay Pharoah, Jake Lacy, Beck Bennett, and Nikki Reed. 

Maravilla 

Directed and written by Juan Pablo Cadaveira (Argentina) – International Premiere A true underdog story, Maravilla follows Argentinian boxer Sergio ‘Maravilla’ Martinez, as he sets out to reclaim the title of Middleweight champion that was unfairly snatched from him in 2011 by Julio Chavez, Jr. Focusing on the rise of Martinez from penniless amateur to world champion and sporting celebrity, director Juan Pablo Cadaveira offers a fascinating glimpse into today’s boxing landscape, revealing the politics of the sporting profession that often places entertainment value over the sport itself. In English and Spanish with subtitles. 

Slaying the Badger 

Directed and written by John Dower (UK) – World Premiere Before Lance Armstrong, there was Greg LeMond, who was the first and only American to officially win the Tour de France. In this engrossing documentary, LeMond looks back at the pivotal 1986 Tour, and his increasingly vicious rivalry with friend, teammate, and mentor Bernard Hinault. The reigning Tour champion and brutal competitor known as “The Badger,” Hinault ‘promised’ to help LeMond to his first victory, in return for LeMond supporting him in the previous year. But in a sport that purports to reward teamwork, it’s really every man for himself. 

Special Conversation Shooting and Scoring 

A conversation about the particular art in creating authentic sports stories - from non-fiction material to heart stopping hits that satisfy hardcore fans while also connecting with broader audiences. Featuring director Peter Berg, best known for his hit TV series and film, Friday Night Lights and for the recent sports doc series, State of Play, which illuminates the intersection of sports and sports culture with wider society in 2014 America.

Next Goal Wins 

Directed by Mike Brett and Steve Jamison (UK) – World Premiere When the American Samoan national soccer team suffered the world’s worst defeat, losing to Australia 31-0, these tiny islands crash-landed into last place in FIFA world rankings, and became known as “the worst team in the world.” More than a decade later, they have not yet won an official match. Next Goal Wins follows their miraculous efforts as they train for the next World Cup. Led by an eccentric new coach, they have a chance to redefine their international reputation. 

The Battered Bastards of Baseball 

Directed and written by Chapman Way and Maclain Way (USA) – New York Premiere Bing Russell is best known for his role as Deputy Clem on Bonanza, but he left Hollywood in 1973 to pursue his first love: baseball. Creating the independent Portland Mavericks, his ragtag roster of players that major franchises rejected were baseball’s biggest joke. Then they shattered expectations and turned Major League Baseball on its heels in an unheralded story of spirit and rebellion. 

30 for 30: Soccer Stories 

Followed by a special conversation with filmmakers Ezra Edelman, Daniel Battsek and ESPN about the films and the upcoming World Cup. 

The Opposition 

Directed by Ezra Edelman and Jeffrey Plunkett (USA/Chile) – World Premiere In the wake of the 1973 military coup in Chile, American-backed dictator Augusto Pinochet transformed Santiago’s National Stadium into a concentration camp where political opponents were tortured and assassinated. Only two months later, that same stadium was scheduled to host a decisive World Cup qualifier between Chile and the Soviet Union. Despite protests, FIFA’s own investigation, and the Soviets’ eventual boycott, the Chilean team still played the game as planned, qualifying for the 1974 World Cup on a goal scored against no one. 

Maradona '86

Directed by Sam Blair, Executive Produced by John Battsek (USA) – World Premiere In the 1986 World Cup, Diego Armando Maradona redefined what is possible for one man to accomplish on the soccer field. Already a figure of notoriety, but with one failed World Cup behind him, Argentinian Maradona took possession of the international stage in Mexico, the spotlight rarely drifting from him as he wrote an indelible history with his feet and, of course, with a “hand from God.” Maradona ’86 is a fascinating, evocative, and operatic portrait, revealing Maradona’s inner complexity and contradictions while basking in the joy and passion of his performance on the pitch, as he wrote his name into soccer history forever. 

True Gladiators 

Directed by Kevin Donovan (USA) – World Premiere Follows the career of three former American Gladiators and how they deal with the demands of the show, the injuries, and their personal lives. Jim Kalafat was a tough kid from a small town in Montana who dreamed of playing for the NFL. His prodigious skills as a linebacker led him all the way to the Los Angeles Rams, where he met fellow teammate Dan Clark. After suffering career-ending injuries, the two best friends used their athleticism, broad smiles and gift for gab to become the muscular, ass-kicking, heartthrob stars “Laser” and “Nitro” on the hit ‘90s television show American Gladiators. Joined by Mr. America 1989, Steve Henneberry, a.k.a. “Tower”, the three battle-scarred gladiators reveal what went on behind the scenes of one of the most popular syndicated “sports” shows in history.
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