With the next Summer Olympics now another four years away, Indiewire looks at a handful of non-Olympic sports in its latest curated Documentaries page for Hulu. Will any of these events make the cut for a future Olympiad? We’ll have to wait and see — but you can watch all of these sports docs for free right now!
In “White Wash,” director Ted Woods explores the history of surfing, created and developed by Pacific Islanders, and how it has become widely associated almost exclusively with white athletes. Along the way, he puts the lie to the idea that black people don’t surf by recognizing the talents and achievements of black and other non-white surfers.
Although the International Surfing Association is recognized by the governing body of the Olympics, the sport has never been included in the games. A strange Australasian hybrid, surf lifesaving, was included as a demonstration sport at the 1900 games, but beyond that petitions to make surfing itself a competition sport have not been successful, although wakeboarding is one of eight sports under consideration for the 2020 games.
Speaking of surfing, documentarian Bruce Brown followed up his seminal 1966 surfing doc “The Endless Summer” with “On Any Sunday,” his look at the hyperkinetic world of motorcycle racers and enthusiasts. The film features legendary actor Steve McQueen, whose production company financed the project, and went on to be nominated for the 1971 Best Documentary Academy Award.
Both motorcycle racing and the subject of the next documentary, auto racing, appeared at the Olympics unofficially in 1900. Because the Olympic Charter bans motorized sports from eligibility, it seems unlikely either will ever make it into the games. The three subjects of Marshall Curry’s stirring “Racing Dreams” have something other than the Olympics in their sights — these teen and tween racers compete in the World Karting Association National Championship with the goal of one day turning NASCAR professional.
An event with at least a shot at the 2020 games is roller derby, included with wakeboarding as a potential new inclusion. While fans won’t know the IOC’s decision until next year, Bob Ray’s spirited “Hell on Wheels” can provide a crash course (forgive the pun) on the event, and how a group of feisty Austin women banded together in the early 2000s to revive the once-popular but basically extinct sport and help make it an international phenomenon.
Finally, another contender on the 2020 list is wushu, or kung-fu, which made its Olympic debut as an exhibition event at the 2008 games. Patrick Daly’s “Needle Through Brick” explores the sport through its best practitioners, as traditional kung fu masters reflect on the challenges of preserving their knowledge and heritage even as China experiences radical modernization.
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, shorts and panel programmer for DOC NYC, and a consultant to documentary filmmakers and festivals. Follow him on Twitter (@1basil1) and visit his blog (what (not) to doc).