By Adam Carlson
March 12, 2013 at 11:07 PM EDT

Big Shot

  • Movie

Image Credit: Tribeca Film Festival[/caption]

The Tribeca Film Festival already has a slate of interesting independent and documentary films lined up this year, to which it can now add another group — the slate for this year’s Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival, which runs concurrent with the Tribeca. The program will kick-off with Kevin Connolly’s Big Shot, which will serve as the program’s gala premiere. The program will also include four installments from ESPN’s “Nine for IX” series, designed to commemorate the anniversary of Title IX and women in sports.

“We produce our films with the intention of capturing both the glory and the heartbreak of what sports mean to so many people and we are very proud of the creative, story-driven documentaries that were selected for this year’s Festival,” said Connor Schell, vice president of ESPN Films in a statement.

Take a look at the full line-up for this year’s Tribeca/ESPN festivals after the jump.

Big Shot (USA)

Directed by Kevin Connolly

World Premiere, Documentary

In 1996, John Spano (pictured), a previously unknown Dallas business mogul, bought the New York Islanders for a whopping $165 million. The future looked bright for the once-legendary team. Then Spano took his seat in the front office. Entourage’s Kevin Connolly takes us behind the scenes of the biggest fraud in hockey history, as Spano’s wealth is revealed to be a lie and his rise to power a brilliantly concocted scheme. (This isn’t Connolly’s first time at Tribeca; he debuted his feature Gardener of Eden there in 2007.)

McConkey (USA)

Directed and written by Steve Winter, Murray Wais, Scott Gaffney, David Zieff, and Rob Bruce

World Premiere, Documentary

An all-star roster of sports movie-making talent directs this heartfelt biography of extreme ski trailblazer Shane McConkey, once described as “the most influential skier ever.” McConkey covers forty years and countless high places to track Shane’s conversion from downhill racer to free skiing marvel to pioneer of a hair-raising new discipline—ski BASE jumping—giving new meaning to the question, how do you live your life to the fullest?

Lenny Cooke (USA)

Directed by Benny Safdie and Joshua Safdie

World Premiere, Documentary

In 2001, Lenny Cooke was the most hyped high school basketball player in the country, ranked above future greats LeBron James, Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. A decade later, Lenny has never played a minute in the NBA. In this quintessentially American documentary, filmmaking brothers Joshua and Benny Safdie track the unfulfilled destiny of a man for whom superstardom was only just out of reach.

The Trials of Muhammad Ali (USA)

Directed by Bill Siegel

World Premiere, Documentary

Brash boxer Cassius Clay burst into the American consciousness in the early 1960s, just ahead of the Civil Rights movement. His transformation into the spiritually enlightened heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali is legendary, but this religious awakening also led to a bitter legal battle with the U.S. government after he refused to serve in the Vietnam War. This film reveals the perfect storm of race, religion and politics that shaped one of the most recognizable figures in sports history.

The Motivation (USA)

Directed by Adam Bhala Lough

World Premiere, Documentary

Go inside the lives and training regimes of eight of the world’s gutsiest professional skateboarders. These fearless stars face unique obstacles on the way to the Street League Championship and the coveted title of best street skateboarder in the world. Adam Bhala Lough, creator of the independent hit Bomb the System (TFF 2003), directs this fresh, energetic documentary search for that elusive quality that separates winners from the pack. In English, Portuguese with subtitles.

Special Screenings from the “Nine for IX” series

Pat XO (USA)

Directed by Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern Winters; produced by Robin Roberts

World Premiere, Documentary

In August 2011, Pat Summitt, college basketball’s winningest coach, made the stunning announcement that she had early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Before and after resigning in April 2012, the legendary coach and her son, Tyler, have set out to beat this challenge as they had every other—with grace, humor and, most of all, each other. Pat XO tells the remarkable story of this incomparable coach as it has never been told before, straight from the people who knew her best.

The Diplomat (USA)

Directed by Senain Kheshgi and Jennifer Arnold

World Premiere, Documentary

At the height of the Cold War, Katarina Witt became one of East Germany’s most famous athletes, winning six European titles, five world championships and back-to-back Olympic gold medals. Known as “the most beautiful face of socialism,” she earned unique benefits in East Germany but also constant surveillance from the Stasi, the notorious secret police force.

No Limits (USA)

Directed by Alison Ellwood

World Premiere, Documentary

Suffering from scoliosis as a teenager, Audrey Mestre found freedom in the ocean. Years later, she discovered another reason to love the water: the elusive, often raucous free diver Pipin Ferreras. As Mestre follows Ferreras’s almost spiritual quest to push his limits underwater, she moves from supporter to ardent free diver to world-class competitor. Then a challenge from a rival pushes the couple to the brink of what is possible, both above and below the surface.

Let Them Wear Towels (USA)

Directed by Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg

World Premiere, Documentary

During the 1977 World Series, Sports Illustrated reporter Melissa Ludtke was denied access to the players’ locker room. After a very public fight, the door was opened, but the debate about female journalists in the male sanctum of the clubhouse remained. Through interviews with pioneering female sports writers, Let Them Wear Towels captures the raw behavior, humorous retaliation, angry lawsuits and remarkable resolve that went into the struggle for equal access for women reporters.

Read more:

Tribeca Film Festival announces new Richard Linklater, David Gordon Green films for line-up

Tribeca Film Festival announces shorts lineup with films featuring Elijah Wood, Elle Fanning, more

Tribeca Film Festival announces opening night features

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