Sports docs step up to the fest plate

'Baseball Story' to open U.S. Sports Film Fest

Filmmakers with feature-length documentaries about sports have submitted a batch of pictures to the first-ever U.S. Sports Film Festival, led by the premiere of “We Are Young: A Baseball Story,” put together by Major League Baseball’s production arm.

“We Are Young,” which gets a double run at the fest in Philadelphia on Oct. 23, the first day of the three-day event, concerns Dmitri Young, a talented Major Leaguer who was arrested for beating his wife and has gone through alcohol rehab, and his younger brother Delman, another baseball talent suspended for 50 games in 2006 for throwing a bat at the umpire in a Triple-A game.

Other new docus slated for the festival include “Renzo Gracie,” about the Brazilian jujitsu master; “Basketball in the Barrio,” about two college basketball players who start a program to teach basketball to impoverished immigrant children in Texas; “Kickin’ It,” which focuses on a team of homeless soccer players; “Run for Your Life,” a biodoc about Fred Lubow, who founded the New York City Marathon; and “Kassim the Dream,” about Kassim Ouma, the boxing champion who spent his childhood as a soldier in Uganda.

“We’re going to have people connected with all of these movies at the festival to take questions after each screening,” said Mary Hermant, director of the fest. There’ll also be panels with both filmmakers and sportswriters.

The city of Philadelphia will help fund the event, as will the Pennsylvania Convention Visitors Bureau and the Landmark theaters, where most of the screenings will take place, Hermant said.

The only award slated to be given, she said, is a prize based on audience enthusiasm.

Other sports pictures to be screened include three previously released mainstream Hollywood movies produced by Mark Ciardi, one of the festival’s advisers: “Invincible,” “Miracle” and “The Rookie.”