Knicks hoops documentary headlines Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival

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The New York Knicks are one of basketball’s most storied franchises but they haven’t won an NBA title since 1973. Celebrity fans like Spike Lee, Woody Allen, and screenwriter William Goldman worshipped the star-studded — but team-first — Knicks teams of that championship era, and a generation of aging sportswriters refuse to let those hardwood legends die. Actor Michael Rapaport was only three years old when the Knicks won their last title, but he’s turned his yearning for those glory years into a documentary, When the Garden was Eden.

Rapaport’s movie, which is also part of ESPN’s “30 for 30″ series, headlines this year’s Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival, and will be the program’s gala premiere on April 17. “As a native New Yorker and lifelong Knicks fan, it was an honor to explore the championship New York Knick teams,” Rapaport said in a statement. “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.”

Also premiering is Champs, which examines how the brutal sport pulled all-time greats, like Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, out of a life of crime and poverty.

Click below for the entire Tribeca/ESPN lineup, descriptions courtesy of the festival:

TRIBECA/ESPN SPORTS FILM FESTIVAL

Gala
When the Garden was Eden, directed by Michael Rapaport. (USA) — World Premiere. Actor Michael Rapaport delivers an unabashed love note to the Knicks with this fast-moving tribute to the team’s glory days. Featuring interviews with Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Earl Monroe, Willis Reed, Bill Bradley, Phil Jackson and others connected to the team’s championship years, When the Garden was Eden is a snapshot of a colorful and volatile era in New York history and a testament to the breathless energy that defines the city and its sporting heroes.

The following Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival titles have already been announced in their respective sections as part of the 2014 TFF film program:

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.

Tribeca Talks: After the Movie and Conversations

Champs, directed by Bert Marcus. (USA) — World Premiere. This insightful and provocative documentary charts the lives of some of America’s heaviest hitters — including Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, and Bernard Hopkins — as they seek to break out of poverty via one of the few outlets available. Bert Marcus skillfully weaves their personal histories and gripping footage from their biggest bouts to explore the meaning of the American dream in a society increasingly fragmented between rich and poor.

After the movie: Stay for a conversation with former boxers Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, and boxing promoter Lou DiBella, about life, rivalry, and conflict both inside and out of the ring.

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.

Tribeca Drive-In

Next Goal Wins will screen as part of the Tribeca Drive-In series on April 19.  The full Tribeca Drive-In schedule will be announced in the coming days.

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.

Special Screening

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 (TBC), 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.

Short Film

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.

In addition to the film series, the Tribeca/ESPN present Sports Day as part of the Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair on April 26. Sports Day offers fans an opportunity to engage in a variety of free, sports-related games and activities. In addition, some of New York’s most popular athletes, mascots and sports personalities will make guest appearances throughout the day. Sports Day is free and open to the public and will take place on North Moore Street, between Greenwich and West Streets, in Manhattan.

The 2014 Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival will run during the 13th edition of TFF, taking place April 16-27 at locations around New York City. All of this year’s Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival films will screen at Tribeca Cinemas on Saturday, April 26. The films will also screen prior to April 26, throughout the Festival.

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