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The ninth annual Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival that runs as part of the Tribeca Film Festival announced its program last week and includes two world premieres, documentary and narrative features, short films, and panel conversations with top athletes and filmmakers.

As the premier outlet for showcasing independent films that focus on sports and competition, the world premiere of Andrew Nevins’ PLAY IT FORWARD will serve as the Opening Gala for this year’s program on Thursday, April 16.

The documentary, produced by Cristan Reilly and executive produced by Michael Strahan and Constance Schwartz, observes the sibling dynamic during a pivotal year between legendary Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez and his older brother Chris, whose own football dreams were never realised.

‘Play It Forward displays the competitive drive of two brothers, while expressing endless support for the other as they strive to achieve greatness their own way’, said Genna Terranova, TFF Festival Director.

CBS Sports Analyst Tony Gonzalez of PLAY IT FORWARD adds:

‘Our family and friends are what drives our journey both on and off the field. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to continue that journey at this year’s Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival with the world premiere of Play It Forward’.

Screening exclusively prior to all Sports Film Festival films will be one of two world premiere short films in the Marvel Entertainment and ESPN Film collaboration 1 of 1: ORIGINS series. Told through narration and custom Marvel comic animation, each short from the series focuses on a single athlete and explores moments when, like all Marvel Super Heroes, athletes come to understand the origin of their powers. Travel back in time to see star race car driver DANICA PATRICK retell the moment she discovered her super power as a 10-year-old racing go-carts or 49ers Quarterback COLIN KAEPERNICK’s father teaching him an important lesson after a baseball game that did not go his way.

The documentary, and narrative feature films announced in their respective sections as part of the 2015 TFF film program and that are screening as part of the Sports Film Festival, explore a wide array of topics including two brothers’ quest for football greatness (PLAY IT FORWARD), the historic saga of Sacramento and its favourite son fighting to pull off one of the greatest upsets in NBA history (DOWN IN THE VALLEY), a daredevil’s attempt to test the limits of outer space (ANGRY SKY), and a glimpse at the magic of baseball as told by 20 of the sport’s all-time greats (FASTBALL).

Similarly, the short films screening as part of the Festival examine some of the most discussed sports figures in modern history and present a moment of personal perseverance, true grit, or aspiration outside of their respective sporting arenas. From pro-wrestler turned politician Jesse Ventura (SHOCK THE WORLD) to French figure skater Surya Bonaly (VERSUS film series), New York City Marathon’s oldest female runner, Joy Johnson (EVERY DAY), and gymnastics’ ‘perfect 10’, Nadia Comaneci (ETERNAL PRINCESS), audiences will be able to catch a glimpse of these film throughout the Festival.

All of this year’s Sports Film Festival films will also screen throughout the day on Sports Saturday at Regal Battery Park Stadium 11, as part of TFF’s annual Family Festival Street Fair on Saturday April 25. The Fair’s Sports Day offers sports fans an opportunity to enjoy a variety of free, sports-related games, and activities and will take place on North Moore Street, between Greenwich and West Streets, in Manhattan.

In addition to the film program, the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival will offer three Tribeca Talks: After the Movie events, a series of conversations where audiences view a film and then participate in a conversation after the screening with filmmakers, film subjects, and industry leaders. Among those participating in this year’s Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival conversations are Spike Lee (THE GREATEST CATCH EVER), Eva Longoria (GO SEBASTIAN GO), ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief and statistician Nate Silver (SHOCK THE WORLD), and Retta (VERSUS film series).

Check our dedicated TFF 2015 blog for all the news and information regarding the festival as well as check out below, the films featuring in the 2015 TRIBECA/ESPN Sports Film Festival.

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Play It Forward

Andrea Nevins (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary – Gala

An intimate portrait of All-American NFL tight end Tony Gonzalez, renowned for his sure hand and intrepid heart, and his older brother, and wingman, Chris. Take a seat at the Sunday night dinner table of the Gonzalez family and experience their pride, love, and resilience, as they speak candidly about how they overcame disappointment, and supported each other through tragedies on the winding journey to fulfilling their ambitions.

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Angry Sky

Jeff Tremaine (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary

In the 1960s, truck-driver Nick Piantanida discovered skydiving, and set out to break the world record for the highest parachute jump by taking a helium balloon to the edge of space. Over the course of a year, his dream to launch the first civilian space program drove him to obsession. An ESPN Films release selected for completion in the Spotlight screening section.

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El Cinco (El 5 de Talleres)

Adria?n Biniez (Argentina) – North American Premiere, Narrative

Pato?n, with his fiery temper and aggressive play, is the veteran star of his city’s soccer team. When his transgressions land him a lengthy suspension, he considers retirement, while discovering a world that consists of more than just feet and fists. This coming- of-middle-age tale reveals the predicament of leaving the arena where you most feel at home. In Spanish with subtitles.  Selected for competition in the Viewpoints screening section.

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Down In The Valley

Jason Hehir (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary

How far would you go to save your hometown team? For many Sacramento residents, faced with the nearly certain relocation of their beloved Kings, no boardroom was too distant. One native son proved it. Follow former NBA superstar turned Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson as he battles owners and executives to keep the Kings at home, in this roaring testament to the passion and power of the small-market fan. An ESPN Films release selected for completion in the Spotlight screening section.

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Fastball

Jonathan Hock (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary

Since 1912, baseball has been a game obsessed with statistics and speed. Thrown at upwards of 100 miles per hour, a fastball moves too quickly for human cognition and accelerates into the realm of intuition. FASTBALL is a

look at how the game at its highest levels of achievement transcends logic and even skill, becoming the primal struggle for man to control the uncontrollable. Selected for competition in the Spotlight screening section.

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GORED

Ido Mizrahy (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary

GORED centers on Spanish bullfighter Antonio Barrera, holder of the dubious title of “Most Gored Bullfighter in History,” as he grapples with the end of his career. Captivating footage of past and present bullfights reveal Barrera’s tremendous passion for the sport, as well as his seemingly irresistible urge to confront death at every opportunity. In Spanish with subtitles. Selected for competition in the Viewpoints screening section.

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Havana Motor Club

Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt (Cuba, USA) – World Premiere

Reforms have offered opportunity in Cuba but the children of the Revolution are unsure of the best route forward. For a half-dozen drag racers, this means last-minute changes to their beloved American muscle cars, as they prepare for the first sanctioned race in Cuba since 1960. Punctuated by a lively Cuban soundtrack, HAVANA MOTOR CLUB offers a fascinating glimpse at the resilience and ingenuity of the competitive spirit. In Spanish with subtitles. Selected for competition in the World Documentary screening section.

 Porto Alabe being allotted to the UnicornPhotographer: Guillaume Bonn

Palio

Cosima Spender (UK, Italy) – World Premiere

In the world’s oldest horse race, the Palio, taking bribes and fixing races threatens to extinguish the passion for the sport itself. Giovanni, unversed in corruption, challenges his former mentor, who dominates the game. What ensues is a thrilling battle, filled with the intoxicating drama that is at the center of Italian tradition. In Italian with subtitles. Selected for competition in the World Documentary screening section.