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Tribeca's must-see sports films: 2018

Don't miss documentaries on the Air Jordan I and Nepal's first golf star.

Now in its 17th year, the Tribeca Film Festival and its whirlwind of anniversary screenings, reunions, talks, classes (and even an eSports tournament) runs April 18 to 29. But at its core is still its roster of film premieres, with over 150 narrative features, documentaries, and shorts from which movie buffs can choose. Here, seven noteworthy sports-centric picks, including entries in the Tribeca ESPN Sports Film Festival.


<i>unbanned: the legend of aj1</i>

Interviews with hoops legend Michael Jordan, film director Spike Lee, rapper Chuck D, and more contribute to the origin story of the Air Jordan 1, arguably the most famous sneaker of all time. Director Dexton Deboree’s 90-minute feature documentary examines the shoe’s role in breaking down long-established NBA rules and its influence on sports, hip-hop, and celebrity culture.
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<i>a mountain to climb</i>

This 25-minute short documentary from four-time Emmy Award-winning producer Kristen Lappas tells the inspiring story of Pratima Sherpa. The Nepali teen was born and raised in a maintenance shed on the 4th hole of the Royal Nepal Golf Club and the film follows as she strives to become her country’s first golf star.
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<i>sonic break</i>

Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner’s earlier record-breaking jumps (off the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, from a hand of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro) seem like child’s play compared to his 2012 jump from the Earth’s stratosphere, which broke the sound barrier. Stevan Riley’s 22-minute short documentary explores the mental training and sports psychology behind the incredible nine-minute feat.
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<i>kaiser: the greatest footballer never to play football</i>

Despite his lack of experience on the field, Carlos Kaiser, born Carlos Henrique Raposo, became one of Brazil’s biggest sports celebrities, enjoying a 26-year career in some of the country’s top clubs. In Louis Myles’s 98-minute documentary, interviews with Brazilian football legends Carlos Alberto Torres, Arthur Antunes Coimbra (better known as Zico), and Kaiser himself give a behind-the-scenes look at football’s ultimate con job.
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<i>when she runs</i>

Directors Robert Machoian and Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck’s previous film, the underrated God Bless the Child, followed a day-in-the-life of five children after their depressive mother walked out on their modest home. The camera lenses are turned in the duo’s latest film, a 69-minute feature narrative which follows another mother of limited means, but one with grand ambitions: to compete in the Olympics.
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<i>the life of esteban</i>

Director Inès Eshun’s 16-minute short trails Esteban Enderica from his time as a baby paddling in a pool to a lithe-limbed Olympic swimmer. In this poetic coming-of-age story, Esteban (who is raised by a single mother and doesn’t know the identity of his father) uses swimming as a metaphor for life.
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<i>momentum generation</i>

On Oahu's north shore in the late 1980s, surfing catapulted from a small-time sport to a part of mainstream culture. In this film, Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning brothers Jeff and Michael Zimbalist combine archival footage and interviews with surf legends such as Kelly Slater and Rob Machado to tell the fascinating tale.
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