ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 returns with six films

ESPN's '30 for 30' doc strand returns in October, continuing its second season with Nanette Burstein's Tonya and Nancy and Kevin Connolly's Big Shot.
July 25, 2013

ESPN’s ’30 for 30′ doc strand returns in October, continuing its second season with Nanette Burstein’s Tonya and Nancy and Kevin Connolly’s Big Shot.

The run of six documentary films kicks off on October 1 at 8 p.m. with Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau.

Directed by Sam George, the film documents the life of Aikau, the legendary Hawaiian big wave surfer, pioneering lifeguard and doomed crew member of the Polynesian voyaging canoe. The doc uses archival footage, interviews and historical source material to follow the decline and rebirth of Hawaiian culture.

Following every Tuesday night, the docs include Free Spirits, directed by Daniel H. Forer, which looks at a basketball team called the Spirits of St. Louis, which didn’t survive the American Basketball Association-NBA merger. The team lasted for two years amid controversy and a play-off upset, and featured an upstart sportscaster named Bob Costas.

On October 15, No Mas looks at what really happened during the showdowns between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran. Directed by Eric Drath, the film goes behind the scenes of the 1980s bouts between Leonard, an American boxing hero after winning a gold medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics, and Latino champion Duran.

Elsewhere, Big Shot follows and tells the story of a Dallas businessman, John Spano, who bought the New York Islanders in 1996, and was revealed as a fraud the following year. The Kevin Connolly-directed doc opened up the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival.

This is What They Want broadcasts on October 29, and focuses on tennis star Jimmy Connors and his run at the 1991 US Open semifinals, at the age of 39 – and eight years passed his last Grand Slam singles title. The comeback saw Connors defeat a number of younger athletes, and the doc is directed by Brian Koppelman and David Levien.

Rounding up the doc selection is Tonya and Nancy, a doc about the U.S. figure skaters who became tied together in 1994 when Tonya Harding’s ex-husband plotted to attack Nancy Kerrigan and eliminate her from the competition. The doc features Harding and Kerrigan taking a fresh look at the incident with new interviews.

“We continue to see an insatiable appetite for well-told sports stories that both tap into nostalgia and allow for discovery of new insight and detail,” said Connor Schell, vice president of ESPN Films. “Sports hold an increasingly prominent place in American culture, and our new slate of films exemplifies our ongoing goal of telling cultural stories that last.”

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