It is common for festivals the world over to specialize in a theme, and this year, both Detroit and Cleveland are focusing on the many ways that sports can change lives, lending purpose to those of athletes and inspiring others to walk in their trail of light. First up is the Cleveland International Film Festival, which will run from April 4 to 15. The Freep Film Festival in Detroit starts a little later, launching on the 11th and ending on the 15th. In this post, we highlight some of the coolest sports-centered flicks to watch out for. If you live far away and a visit to the festivals is impossible, check out the possibility of catching the films online through your favorite providers.
Cleveland: The Adrenalin rush of competition
If films like "Rocky" or "Chariots of Fire" set you ablaze, then you know that they often delve into the rivalry and camaraderie that arises between top opponents. Janus Metz Pedersen’s "Borg vs McEnroe," starring Sverrir Gudnason and Shia LaBeouf, revels in the tension that fueled these tennis greats, resulting in memorable games that are still talked about today. "Minding the Gap", by Director Bing Liu, focuses more on the strong bond that develops between a group of unlikely friends through skateboarding. Each has their own disturbing issues but everything is forgotten once they negotiate the vertiginous curves of the skate park.
For something lighter, it’s got to be Peter Luisi’s "Streaker," about a 53-year-old high school teacher in a financial bind, who recruits and trains streakers for the purpose of illegal sports betting. This film is somewhat reminiscent of "Snake & Mongoose," labeled on producer Broidy’s IMDB page as a work about “the most famous rivalry in racing history.” The film is about much more than that; like Stalker, it hones into the creative vision required to make money from sport. In "Snake & Mongoose," a clever duo of drag racers latch onto Mattel’s newest toy collection (Hot Wheels), attracting the company’s sponsorship while making a mint and battling for pole position. In Stalker, it’s more about making the most of fanaticism while having a good laugh and making the headlines.
Detroit: The real thing
The Freep Film Festival highlights top documentaries and this time, sports are the overriding theme. Top flicks include "All Sports Shorts: Shorts Program 2," which delves into lesser-known but well-loved sports enjoyed in Michigan, including motorcycle hill climbing, canoe racing, and diving in the Great Lakes. If you are currently into "First Match" (the recently released Netflix film about an abandoned African American girl who joins the boys wrestling team at her Brooklyn high school), then you will love this short, which features an amazing attempt by a group of women divers.
Another film critics are raving about is "The Big House," which takes a look at the meticulous work required to host over 100,000 people for a football Saturday at the Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. Another pretty cool choice is "I Like to Hurt People," a hilarious vintage documentary featuring 1980s personalities like Andre the Giant and Bobo Brazil.
Questions such as ‘What makes a great athlete tick?’ ‘What role can sports play to help our youth?’ and ‘How can you make money while doing what ignites your passion?’ are just a few questions answered in the films mentioned above. Check out the official websites of the popular film fests they form part of and make sure to watch a few films at home… better yet, escape for a weekend of pure cinematic bliss.
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