Hot Docs Festival: Sport Films

So here we are again one year later! Hot Docs: Canadian International Documentary Film Festival is back and just as good as ever. From opening night on April 28 to the final day on May 8 there are ample movies to choose from. Below are sport documentaries that are sure to be riveting. (All film synopses courtesy of Hot Docs. For the full schedule and showtimes, as well as costs visit the festival website:

GLEASON – USA – 110 mins
At age 34, former NFL defensive back and New Orleans hero Steve Gleason was diagnosed with ALS. With limited time left to live, he purposefully records his spirited and inspiring life .

Part riveting biopic, part legal thriller, this five-episode series from the makers of ESPN’s legendary 30 for 30 program brings new perspectives and unprecedented access to the complex story of America’s most famous murder trial.

Run away and join the circus performers – acrobats, trapeze artists, clowns and even horses – who’ve retired to Sarasota, forming a close-knit community of larger than life personalities that continue to defy gravity long after the thrills of the Big Top have ended.

GUN RUNNERS – Canada – 90 mins
Two of the most notorious warriors in Kenya’s magnificent Great Rift Valley trade in their AK-47s for sneakers and a chance to make their living as professional marathon runners in this powerful story of friendship, rivalry and sport.

A charming group of misfit skateboarders navigate the Georgian capital of Tbilisi seeking their place in the magical, dark and confining city that’s steeped in Soviet history and a conservative religion that’s completely at odds with their non-conformist outlook.

HIT IT HARD – USA – 51 mins
Meet the hyper-talented and unpredictable “rock star of golf” John Daly as he reflects on the chard-earned lessons of his incredible career: from winning two major tournaments despite being only self-taught, to facing the destructive lows of his addictions.

HOOP DREAMS – USA – 176 mins
This seminal and award-winning game changer tells the story of two Chicago inner-city basketball prodigies struggling with institutions that hold up unreasonable expectations and ignore the colossal burden carried on their young shoulders.

In his hometown of Hampton, Virginia, Steve James revisits the racially charged trial and conviction of high school basketball star Allen Iverson, which brought bubbling rancor to the surface and still haunts its residents.


Hot Docs Special Presentation: Out to Win

Movie description provided by Hot Docs: Sports have the power to reflect and define our cultural identity and shape gender roles. When Michael Sam was drafted to the NFL in 2014, it was a groundbreaking event that blew the closet doors wide open on the challenges faced by professional LGBT athletes around the globe. From pioneers like tennis champions Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King to tomorrow’s superstars, Out to Win chronicles the history of LGBT in sports through perspectives of athletes, coaches, agents, fans and—perhaps most importantly—the media. The personal stories of trailblazers who openly share the sacrifices and conflicts that consumed their professional aspirations give context to present-day athletes whose private lives are increasingly scrutinized in our celebrity-focused culture. Filmmaker Malcolm Ingram connects these generations through the groundbreaking work of advocacy organizations and leaders like Jason Collins who have positively and permanently transformed the professional sports landscape, courts and fields.

This timely and important documentary is being screened at the festival on April 29, May 1 and May 2. Check it out, and go see some of the others they have in store too. Yay! to another year of Hot Docs.

Hot Docs International Premiere: T-Rex

Movie description provided by Hot Docs: Just 17 years old, Claressa “T-Rex” Shields is a boxing phenomenon. With an unbeaten record, she trains hard on the equally hard streets of Flint, Michigan. Whether to escape her family’s crazy daily dramas or the dim prospects of life in a dead-end town, she is banking on one plan: the gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Her coach—an obvious father-figure—gives her everything she needs to make it happen, from a second home to steel-focused training. Now she just has to win. But will even this potentially historic moment of fame be enough to change what the future often holds for a poor, African American girl in a recession-state? Filmmakers Zackary Canepari and Drea Cooper combine a slick visual style with unexpectedly candid observations of a vulnerable young woman crafting a smart critique of the truly unequal opportunities of sports fame in America.

This amazing documentary is being screened at the festival on April 24, April 25 and May 2. Check it out, and go see some of the others they have in store too. Yay! to another year of Hot Docs.