Tribeca/ESPN fest sets slate

Festival sports opening pair

The Tribeca Film Festival and ESPN have announced that Woody Harrelson poker mockumentary “The Grand” and Michael Apted World Cup doc “Power of the Game” will kick off fest-within-a-fest the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival with gala preems.

“The Grand” will world preem on April 27, “Game” on April 28.

Tribeca/ESPN fest also announced 12 other films on Tuesday as part of its inaugural slate. Movies will play in other sections of the Tribeca fest but will also be shown in a special lineup on May 5.

Among the pics are the jazz doc “Chops,” jump-rope saga “Doubletime” and Adam Carolla boxing pic “The Hammer.”

Organizers said they made the decision to broaden beyond what’s traditionally considered a sports film because the ethos of competition permeates many kinds of movies.

“We certainly don’t view sports and film in a singular way,” said Geoff Reiss, senior veep of ESPN Original Entertainment. “There are many different ways to tell a story about competition.”

ESPN already broadcasts cheerleading tourneys and spelling bees as part of its effort to widen the definition of sports programming.

“The Grand” is a mockumentary directed by Zak Penn about the misadventures of a pro poker player. Apted’s film examines the phenomenon of the World Cup around the globe.

Net will cross-promote all 14 films across a number of platforms, including on ESPN News, on its Web site and on ESPN Radio network.

Partnership reps an unusual collaboration between a television net and a film fest.

Fest had previously developed reputation for Gotham-themed films as well as summer tentpoles, last year bowing “United 93″ and MI3” at the fest.

Sportsfest could ultimately be spun off as its own event, insiders said.

Tribeca reps said fest received many more sports-themed submissions this year because of ESPN involvement. Net execs said they’d been hoping for enough to yield a six-film lineup, but the available pool of pics led to the decision to double the slate.

Sportsfest also announced events featuring pro teams such as the New York Jets and unveiled an advisory board that includes Mark Cuban, the Farrelly brothers, Spike Lee and Jimmy Kimmel.

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