Lights, camera, action meets game, set, match, when film buffs and sports fans gather for a packed weekend of sports documentaries and programming hosted at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I. The inaugural newportFILM SPORTS film festival is set for April 29 – May 1, 2016. newportFILM SPORTS is a joint venture between newportFILM and the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
“After over five years of building our brand as a trusted year-round documentary screening series, newportFILM is thrilled to be adding a film festival element to its program,” commented newportFILM’s Artistic Director and Founder Andrea van Beuren. “We have been in discussions with the International Tennis Hall of Fame about partnering on a sports film event for some time and we are really excited to be taking this step together. The inaugural festival will feature a selection of carefully curated documentaries (shorts and features). Each film tells an exceptionally well crafted story and none should be missed!”
“We are very much looking forward to delivering a memorable sports film festival in partnership with newportFILM SPORTS,” commented Doug Stark, museum director at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. “At the International Tennis Hall of Fame, every day we work to share the great stories of our sport. Film being one of the most compelling and engaging story-telling platforms we have available, the sports film festival will be a great way to share a variety of unique stories from the sports world. We are excited to partner with newportFILM to create a great event for the community.”
Films will span a variety of sports – boxing to horse-racing, and much in between. The films will be shown in the Casino Theatre on the Hall of Fame property and in the USTA Wing, which is a space within the Hall of Fame’s museum. Special events throughout the weekend will take place in the tennis facility and on the grounds.
The festival kicks off on Friday, April 29 with Winning, a film that explores a theme that is at the heart of all sports – what does it take to win? How does one become a champion? The film offers a thought-provoking and inspirational look inside the minds of five world-class athletes through candid conversations with Tennis Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova, Jack Nicklaus (golf), Nadia Comaneci (gymnastics), Edwin Moses (track and field), and Esther Vergeer (wheelchair tennis). The film’s director, Jacqueline Joseph will participate in a post-film discussion with the audience. An Opening Night party will follow in the USTA Wing in the Hall of Fame. The film is sponsored by Inpopnito (popcorn in disguise), a company based in Newport, R.I.
On Saturday and Sunday, a robust line up of documentaries, shorts, and special events will enable festival-goers to connect with the emotions of sports, from the joy of triumph to the agony of defeat.
Films will include Dark Horse, the Audience Award Winner in the World Cinema Documentary Competition at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, which chronicles the astonishing story of residents from a poor mining community in Wales who became successful thoroughbred breeders; Touch the Wall, which showcases the demanding path of Olympic swimmers Missy Franklin and Kara Lynne Joyce (Kara will be in attendance); and T-Rex, which follows 17-year-old Claressa “T-Rex” Shields of Flint, Michigan, as she goes for gold in women’s boxing at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Ideal for the city-by-the sea, the featured film on Saturday evening will be the sailing documentary, The Weekend Sailor. The film chronicles the exciting and unlikely story of the Mexican crew of Sayula II that sailed their way to victory in the first-ever round-the-world sailing race – the precursor to today’s Volvo Ocean Race. Bernardo Arsuaga, director, will attend the screening, and will participate in a post-film panel discussion. Also on the panel will be Nick Dana, Rhode Island native and current round-the-world sailor on the 2015 Volvo Ocean Race’s Team Alvimedica, and Anderson Reggio, Rhode Island native and weather coordinator for the 2015 Volvo Ocean Race’s Team Alvimedica. The evening is sponsored by KVH, a Middletown, R.I. based manufacturer of internet and communications services for the marine industry. Sail Newport is a partner in the evening as well.
Just as the most dramatic, exciting moments of sports take place in a fast and furious manner, sometimes the most compelling films are short and sweet. At newportFILM SPORTS, festival-goers will be treated to a sports short film session, exclusively curated by The New York Times Op-Docs. Op-Docs is The New York Times’s editorial department’s Emmy-winning forum for short, opinionated documentaries, produced with wide creative latitude and a range of artistic styles, covering current affairs, contemporary life, and historical subjects.
A panel discussion with female Olympians on Saturday afternoon will be a highlight of the day with filmmakers and film subjects, including four-time Silver Medal-winning Olympic swimmer Kara Lynn Joyce, who is featured in Touch the Wall. Additional Olympian panelists will be announced in the coming days.
On Saturday evening, newportFILM SPORTS will move to downtown Newport to celebrate the filmmakers with a VIP sponsor and all-access pass holder party at The Clarke Cooke House.
After cozying up in their seats for the sports films on Saturday, fans can get moving themselves on Sunday. A tennis clinic for kids on the new indoor tennis courts at the Hall of Fame Tennis Club will open the day on Sunday. Former world No. 4 ranked player and current Hall of Fame CEO Todd Martin and Wimbledon mixed doubles champion John Austin, who is currently the Director of Tennis for the Hall of Fame Tennis Club will participate in the clinic, along with Hall of Fame Tennis Club staff professionals. The clinic will be suited for kids ages 5 – 15, and is open to all levels. Participants and their families will enjoy a post-clinic lemonade reception in the new tennis club building. Newport Pediatric Dentistry is the sponsor of the youth tennis clinic, as well as Saturday’s screening of Touch the Wall.
Also on Sunday, Newport Yogis will host an outdoor yoga class on the beautiful Hall of Fame grass courts. The event will be open to the public and will be a donation-based class that will benefit both newportFILM and the International Tennis Hall of Fame.