I’ve always found the Tribeca Film Festival’s program to be a bit dull, but one section the fest smartly programs each year is the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival. This year, they open with what to this long suffering Knicks fan sounds like the greatest film of all time. They open April 17 with the gala premiere of the docu When The Garden Was Eden, a film about the Knicks championship teams of the early 70’s, the days of Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Willis Reed, Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere, Cazzie Russell, Dick Barnett, and yeah, Phil Jackson. While Jackson is now the polished Zen Master who coached the LA Lakers and Chicago Bulls to 11 titles and expected to come in and overhaul the Knicks roster, you should have seen him back then, long haired and gangly, when it was an adventure watching Jackson race down court trying to make a simple layup. The team battled classic rivals like the hated Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, and, honestly with the exception of Jeremy Lin’s short stint as point guard and the vintage playoff battles led by Patrick Ewing and John Starks, Knicks hoops were never as much fun as when Frazier was the point guard steering the Knicks attack. Pic is directed by Michael Rapaport, who’s currently making a strong impression as a redneck bad guy in the FX series Justified.
“As a native New Yorker and lifelong Knicks fan it was an honor to explore the Championship New York Knick teams,” said Rapaport. “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. I also have at times been in awe and tears with the 30 for 30 series and being a filmmaker who has gotten a chance to tell a story for such a great body of films is a great honor…I could not be more excited for our film to premiere right in the center of New York City at the Tribeca Film Festival.”
Here’s the rest of the lineup:
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.