As the New York Giants face off against the New England Patriots at the Super Bowl this weekend for the NFL championship, Indiewire’s curation of Hulu’s Documentaries page offers a look into the dreams of victory of a number of other athletes. The fighting spirit shines through in the inspirational stories of college football teams, marathon runners, horse racers and one particularly determined mixed martial artist.
In “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29,”Kevin Rafferty recounts the historic 1968 football game between the rival universities, which saw two undefeated teams facing off to a wild and unexpected conclusion. The film is one of the quintessential docs on football, revealing the story of what’s considered to be the most famous game in Ivy League football history.
College football is also the focus of “Heart of Geauxld.” The Louisiana State University’s Fighting Tigers – whose Cajun heritage is signaled by the title’s unique spelling – make a bid for the National Championship in this review of their 2007 season.
Wrapping up the college football theme, “Second to None” shows the unity of teammates in the University of Utah. The film follows U of U’s 2008 football season as the undefeated team makes its way from the first game to facing off against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
Moving from the demands of a team sport to the unique partnership between man and animal, Brad & John Hennegan’s “First Saturday in May” turns the focus to the Kentucky Derby. The doc presents a privileged behind-the-scenes view of six trainers in preparation for the legendary race, as well as a profile of the acclaimed thoroughbred Barbaro.
Concentrating further on the individual athlete, the six subjects in Jon Dunham’s “Spirit of the Marathon” depend only on themselves as they attempt to tackle the grueling Chicago Marathon. Half the runners are experienced long-distance runners, while the others are newcomers, but they all push themselves to their limits.
The final film in this salute to athletic determination rests on the shoulders of a singular figure: Kyle Maynard. Takashi Doscher and Alex Shofner’s “A Fighting Chance” profiles the inspiring former high school wrestler as he pursues his mixed martial arts dreams – despite being born without forearms or lower legs, and in the face of controversy.
EDITOR’S NOTE: “Indiewire @ Hulu Docs” is a regular column spotlighting the Iw-curated selections on Hulu’s Documentaries page, a unique collaboration between the two sites. Indiewire selections typically appear in the carousel at the top of the page and under “Featured Content” in the center. Be sure to check out the great non-fiction projects available to watch free of charge. Disclosure: Some of the selections are titles provided to Hulu by SnagFilms, the parent company of Indiewire.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Basil Tsiokos is a Programming Associate, Documentary Features for Sundance and a consultant to documentary filmmakers and festivals. Follow him on Twitter (@1basil1) and visit his blog (what (not) to doc).