Sports Films at Sundance
At the festival, skiing takes a backseat to youth boxing, a loser horse and a cross-tundra trek for a basketball tournament.
Sports movies typically fall into three categories: uplifting (Hoosiers, Field of Dreams), comedy (Caddyshack, Major League) or heavy drama (Million Dollar Baby, Chariots of Fire). This year's Sundance Film Festival, which starts today, gives moviegoers a little of each. Here’s a round-up of the athletic pictures premiering in Park City over the next ten days.
Eleven-year-old Toni spends her days in a rec center in Cincinnati’s West End, training to be a boxer. When she sees a dance drill team practicing, she becomes enamored and tries her best to fit in. But when rehearsing and piercing her ears aren’t enough to be truly on the in's with the group, how far will Toni go? It’s a psychologically driven story of growing up, superset with pull-ups and hip-pops.
O.J.: Made in America
Here’s the facile way we often summarize O.J. Simpson’s life arc: star footballer, white Bronco, misfit glove, murder acquittal. Now, a seven-and-a-half hour miniseries, produced by ESPN and producer/director Ezra Edelman, addresses the national love affair with “The Juice” turned obsession. His is not just a story of sports and a seemingly capricious judicial system, but race relations in America.
I Am Yup’ik
The spotlight of this short, created by ESPN Films as part of its 30 for 30 series, is 16-year-old Byron Nicholai, who is Yup’ik, a branch of Eskimo. He lives in Toksook Bay, part of an island that skirts the western edge of Alaska, and must trek across the tundra to the all-Yup’ik basketball tournament in order to represent his far-flung village.
The Shining Star of Losers Everywhere
This 30 for 30 short tracks the strange career of Hara Urara, a Japanese racehorse who is the definition of failing upwards. She had an 88-race losing streak that culminated in her becoming a nationally loved symbol of perseverance. A moving story, plus terrific animation and Hello Kitty horse tack.