A documentary by frequent HBO “Real Sports” contributor Jon Frankel about the repercussions in the ongoing NFL concussion issue is one of the highlights of the 50-plus entries from 10 countries that are part of the fourth annual All Sports Los Angeles Film Festival, which runs Friday through Sunday at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood.
In “American Man,” Frankel’s focus is on former Alabama fullback Kevin Turner, who spent eight years in the NFL in the 1990s and after suffering countless concussions is, at 42, battling with ALS.
Frankel, who did the 2007 film, “Hellfighters,” about a Harlem high school football team that made it into the Tribeca Film Festival, says his newest doc is “laid out not as a science piece. I see it as a portrait of a man who, as fate would have it, may be taken down by the very game he loves and gave him so much in life. The game giveth and, perhaps, as science may one day conclusively prove taketh away.
“This was never intended to a be offered as a referendum on football. Nor is it about a man dying — but a man still running and trying, with one more burst of energy, to reforge his legacy.”
“American Man” screens Friday at 8 p.m., making its West Coast debut. It premiered at the Sarasota Film Festival and has made stops in Fredricksburg, Tex., San Antonio, Indianapolis, and twice in Alabama, including Birmingham, Turner’s hometown, where it won best documentary.
ESPN Classic has aired it once (Oct. 23) and will do again Nov. 24.
“Having Pete join us this year has really defined what we are all about,” said festival director Pat Battistini. “Pete is a huge sports fan and a great filmmaker. Everyone in attendance this weekend has those two things in common – a love a film and sport. It’s people like Pete, who has the ability to bring people to an event, that takes our festival to the next level.”
Battistini said this year’s number of entries is the greatest in the four years of the event, due to the fact “we’ve continued to make our festival all about the filmmaker, and I feel some positive words have really gotten out about us. We will also have a record setting amount of screenwriters and filmmakers attending the festival coming in from places such as Australia, Hungary and Thailand.
“(Films like ‘American Man’) raise the bar and our reputation. It’s enabled us to get on a lot of filmmakers festival wish list.”
Another prominent entry to the extremely cool festival that sports fans must take note of: The Kapstone Films documentary “Shooting For Home,” about Kevin Bradshaw, who broke Pete Maravich’s NCAA record with a 72-point game for the now-defunct U.S. International University against Loyola Marymount in 1991, then scored 101 points in an Israeli Pro League game and found redemption in his life after being on the brink of suicide. It screens at 4 p.m. Saturday.
“Shooting for Home” is preceded by one of our early favorites: The mocumentary “Into Thick Air,” where seven “defiant mountaineers” attempt to climb the seven summits of the Great Plains. Funding for the film came from the Kickstarter.com website.
Also check out “To Them That’s Gone,” which won Best Documentary and Best Director at the 2012 NYC Independent Film Festival (airs Friday at 5:30 p.m.):
A full schedule for the festival, which ends with the Sunday night awards ceremonies: www.allsportslafilmfest.com. Battistini said that films winning in each category will be sent to Milan, Italy to represent the United States in an event called the “World FICTS Challenge,” competing again 14 other sports film festivals from five continents. It’s like the Olympics of sports film competitions. Battistini will go to Milan in December to represent the U.S. contingency.