“Beyond ESPN: An Offbeat Look at the Sports Film”

Pub date August 4, 2009
WriterCheryl Eddy
SectionFilm FeaturesSectionFilm Review

PREVIEW Co-curated by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ Joel Shepard and the Guardian‘s Johnny Ray Huston, "Beyond ESPN" also goes beyond cinematic convention, offering up a scorecard of (mostly) uncommon picks cleverly corralled under the banner of sports films. In other words, there’s no Rudy (1993) here. The series kicks off Thursday, Aug. 6 with "Rare Films from the Baseball Hall of Fame" (including commercials featuring a pre-scandal but ever-cheeky Pete Rose) and continues throughout August with takes on professional cycling (1976 doc A Sunday in Hell); tennis (1982’s The French, a behind-the-scenes look at the 1981 French Open); and swimming (2006’s Agua). Plus: Visions of Eight (1973), a study of the tragic 1972 Munich Olympics by eight different directors (including Milos Forman, Arthur Penn, and John Schlesinger); and 1971’s Football as Never Before, an intimate, on-the-pitch portrait of luxuriously-maned soccer great George Best. Also included is Clair Denis’ 2005 Towards Mathilde, about contemporary choreographer Mathilde Monnier, and a trio of good-time flicks dubbed "Winning Isn’t Everything: A Tribute to the 1970s Sports Film" from Midnites for Maniacs programmer Jesse Hawthorne Ficks: Ice Castles (1978), The Bad News Bears (1976), and The Cheerleaders (1973). Go team!

BEYOND ESPN: AN OFFBEAT LOOK AT THE SPORTS FILM. Aug 6–30, $8. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF. (415) 978-2787, www.ybca.org