On the eve of a most intriguing World Series that probably no one outside of northern California and Texas will bother to watch (granted, true baseball fans should be thrilled at the prospect of Lee vs. Lincecum and two franchises that haven’t won it all in over 50 years), I was surprised to learn that one of our award-winning alumni from this year’s Florida Film Festival has a new baseball-related film premiering on ESPN today. Brooklyn-based Cruz Angeles, the talented director of DON’T LET ME DROWN–the superb post-9/11 teen love story that won this year’s Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature–has a new 60-minute documentary feature called FERNANDO NATION playing as part of ESPN’s esteemed “30 on 30” series.
FERNANDO NATION looks at the cultural impact that legendary LA Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela had on Los Angeles and the baseball world during a big league career that began in 1980. A media sensation and true sports phenomenon of the 1980s, Fernando was the first player in Major League history to be named Rookie of the Year and to win a Cy Young in the same season, while leading the Dodgers to the World Championship in 1980.
Apparently Cruz has wanted to make a narrative feature about Fernando’s life for years, and he only began working on the doc in May (!) And now here it is, on ESPN in October, the day before the World Series starts. Amazing! Way to go, Cruz.