5 Sundance Films for Athletes
This year, a race car driver and young equestrian take over the big screen.
Park City, home to the U.S. ski team, is a haven for winter sports and boasts an array of healthy restaurants. But thanks to the annual Sundance Film Festival each January, it’s also a destination for cinema buffs. This year, movie-goers can choose from 110 feature-length films from 29 countries, debuting from January 18 to 28. Here, five compelling sports-centric picks.
THE CATCHER WAS A SPY
This enthralling 94-minute thriller has an all-star cast led by Paul Rudd, Sienna Miller, and Jeff Daniels. It tells the true story of Moe Berg, a professional baseball player who moonlights as a top-secret World War II spy for the OSS, a forerunner to the CIA. Expect some top-notch writing: screenwriter Robert Rodat made his name with Saving Private Ryan, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award.
Writer, director, and producer Chloé Zhao spent time in South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation researching her debut film, Songs My Brothers Taught Me. It was there that she met and befriended young rodeo circuit star Brady Jandreau. His life-threatening riding accident—and how he deals with its aftermath—is the subject of Zhao’s poignant new 103-minute docu-drama, starring the cowboy and his real-life family members.
THE LAST RACE
Photographer Michael Dweck spent five years shooting the stock cars and drivers of a small town race track before deciding their stories needed to be told with more than just still imagery. So he embarked on his first feature film, and the result is a 74-minute cinematic portrait of a tight-knit set of drivers, their riveting racing showdowns, and the real estate boom that threatens it all.
Writer and director Crystal Moselle’s first movie, The Wolfpack, won the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize in the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. It centered around six brothers confined to their small apartment. Moselle’s latest, a 107-minute film, explores another small group: a gang of sexually fluid New York City teenage girls whose lives revolve around skateboarding.
This 14-minute Polish documentary explores the idiosyncratic sport of equestrian vaulting, or gymnastics performed on the back of a horse. Its protagonist is a young girl whose plum role atop her team’s acrobatic pyramid is in peril due to an inevitable growth spurt. Co-directors Monika Kotecka and Karolina Poryzala both have backgrounds in photography, making this short visually stunning.