If you’re a sports fan, or a fan of good films, you should definitely check out the 30 for 30 Films that have been produced by ESPN over the past few years. You’ll see a list of the original 30 films in this series, and their descriptions, here and here, and they are all available for checkout here at the library. Below are a few more the library has recently purchased. I encourage you to take a look at these films, as they are some of the best sports documentaries that have ever been made.
Catching Hell – It was the 8th Inning of Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series, and it looked as though the Chicago Cubs would finally be heading to the World Series for the first time in 68 years. They were leading the Florida Marlins 3-0, only five outs removed from advancing when a foul ball hit deep down the left field line was knocked away from Moises Alou, who was reaching into the stands attempting to make a spectacular catch. With that, the Cubs fell apart, surrendering eight runs in the inning to lose Game 6, blowing a lead in the late innings to lose Game 7, and forever linking the name Steve Bartman, the fan who touched the foul ball, with those epic failures. Alex Gibney’s film looks at the debacle from many perspectives, including from within the ballpark of Game 6, and shows just how frightening rabid fans can be, especially tortured ones who came so close to tasting something many of them had never experienced and then felt the need to take out their frustration on someone, anyone.
Charismatic – In 1999 a horse named Charismatic came out of nowhere to win The Kentucky Derby, and The Preakness, the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Led by jockey Chris Antley, the horse seemed poised to win the first Triple Crown in 21 years, but The Belmont Stakes did not finish as jockey and horse had planned. Steven Michaels, Joel Surnow, and Jonathan Kochas’s film looks at the horse, jockey, and the relationship between the two which led to a meteoric rise and fall among the horse racing elite.
Benji – Chicago’s Benjamin Wilson was considered by many to be the top high school basketball prospect in the class of 1985. Propelled by a massive growth spurt during his high school years, Wilson eventually led his team to a state basketball championship his junior year, and, with the help of his teammate and future NBA player Nick Anderson, was prepared to defend that title his senior year. Wilson’s life was cut short, however, as part of the senseless violence that ravaged the city of Chicago during the early and mid 1980s. Filmmakers Coodie Simmons and Chike Okah look at the life and short but illustrious career of Wilson through interviews with family, friends, teammates, and even the shooter who tragically ended his life.
Ghosts of Ole Miss – In 1962, racial turmoil was rampant throughout the southern United States, and when James Meredith became the first African American student to enroll at the University of Mississippi, a riot broke out that left two dead, compelling President Kennedy to send the U.S. Army to Oxford, Mississippi to restore order, and enforce Meredith’s civil rights. In the meantime, the Ole Miss football team was on the verge of having a season of unprecedented success, eventually going undefeated and winning a national championship. Fritz Mitchell’s film explores these events, their relationship to one another, and how the civil rights movement came to Oxford and changed the lives of many for years to come.
You Don’t Know Bo – Without a doubt, Bo Jackson was one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen. His endeavors on the baseball and football field at Auburn University and then in the professional ranks for the Kansas City Royals and Oakland Raiders were filled with moments that, for those who witnessed them, could never be duplicated, and were beyond description. From his throw from the left field wall to home plate on the fly to nail Harold Reynolds at the plate, to his first pitch home run in the 1989 MLB All Star Game, to his destruction of Brian Bosworth on the goal line on Monday Night Football, Bo Jackson’s career was filled with moments those who saw him play will never forget. Michael Bonfiglio’s film shows us Bo from the very beginning, and, though he seemed immortal on the playing field, brings us all the way through the injury that would end his career much too soon.
Survive and Advance – 1983 truly ended in miraculous fashion for the North Carolina State Wolfpack basketball team led by the legendary Jim Valvano. The season was not without its pitfalls, however. In his film, Jonathan Hock looks at the entire 1983 N.C. State Men’s Basketball Season, showing us just how much Valvano’s team had to overcome to win the national championship against mighty Houston. Through interviews with members of the team, we ride the roller coaster with the Wolfpack through that season and see how, through the ACC Tournament and NCAA Tournament they literally lived up to the name of the documentary.