ESPN’s Mike and the Mad Dog documentary will get a triumphant debut, kicking off New York’s Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival on April 21. Part of ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 series, the film covers the 19-year run of Mike Francesa and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo together on the air which ignited the sports talk radio revolution. The documentary will premiere at a gala screening.
In its 11th year, the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival leads off the second half of the overall Tribeca Film Festival, which runs from April 19 to 30. (The overall festival began in 2002.) The festival shows sports-themed feature-length films, such as the Mike and the Mad Dog documentary, in addition to Sports Shorts, a collection of short films that focus on athletics as their subjects.
Among the five feature films showing at the festival will be Chuck, a biopic about boxer Chuck Wepner (played by Liev Schreiber) which portrays the fighter who was the real-life inspiration for the “Rocky” movies. Prolific documentarian Alex Gibney (The Armstrong Lie, 30 for 30’s Catching Hell) premieres his new film titled No Stone Unturned, which follows the story of six men who were gunned down (along with another five injured) while watching a World Cup soccer match at a pub in Northern Ireland. Also making its world premiere at Tribeca is Year of the Scab, a documentary covering the players who suited up for NFL teams during the 1987 players’ strike.
Five short films will also be shown, including The Amazing Adventures of Wally and the Worm. Directed by Colin Hanks, the short uses animation and first-person interviews to depict a 10-day period during the Chicago Bulls’ 1996-97 championship season when Dennis Rodman suffers a knee injury and rehabs with trainer Wally Blase. The Counterfeiter is about a 1998 FBI operation that brought down the largest counterfeiting operation in U.S. history, thanks to the help of some Major League Baseball players. Revolution in the Ring follows Cuban boxer Teofilo Stevenson — who opted to stay in his home country, rather than defect in 1962 — and how his life and those of fellow Cuban citizens were affected by the U.S. embargo.
The festival will also feature a talk hosted by Michael Strahan with Kobe Bryant and animator Glen Keane (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid) about their collaboration Dear Basketball. The animated short brings life to Bryant’s poem in which he announced his retirement from the NBA. The talk will follow a screening of the film, in which the three will discuss what the story meant to them and the efforts to try new endeavors after successful careers.
The Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival begins April 21 and will run through April 30.