Triumph and disaster
20 classic sports documentaries to download today.
Twenty classic sports documentaries to download today.
It’s no surprise the genre of non-fiction films about athletic endeavour and surrounding issues is referred to mainly as “sports” documentaries rather than “sport-no-s”. The best tend to be made by US film-makers, about US sports and athletes and the way life seems sometimes to connect to those pastimes in a deeper, more profound way than in other countries, even in the UK. Despite the best efforts of the BBC, BT Sport and a couple of lone feature film-makers, in this game, we’re playing catch-up. The bedrock of sports documentaries is ESPN’S 30 for 30 series, a season of 30 films to mark the sports media titan’s 30th anniversary. A huge success, it has since grown to more than 100 films, shown in the UK on BT Sport channels, including spin-offs and shorts. Those shorts, at espn.com/30for30/shorts, make excellent podcast alternatives. There are three 30 for 30 films in Esquire’s line-up of sports-doc excellence, including 2017 Bafta- and Oscar-winners Hillsborough and OJ: Made in America. “The best films of this kind bring context,” says Libby Geist, VP and executive producer of ESPN Films, who oversees 30 for 30. “People seem to think they know the stories, but a film-maker can step back and show reasons why and how, which the everyday narrative of sport often lacks.” Geist cites Senna (2010) as among her favourite films; here, including that masterpiece, are ours.