As you may know by now, we’re fans of SundanceNow’s Doc Club. Curated by documentary guru Thom Powers, Doc Club has just launched its January lineup, called “Found Footage,” showcasing eight films that make memorable use of, yep, you guessed it, found footage film (check out the full program here). One of those films in the series is “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29,” which has been called “the most famous football game in Ivy League history.” In the doc, director Kevin Rafferty uncovers the 40-year-old broadcast from one of the most exciting sports games ever played, period. And one of the documentary’s biggest champions is none other than director David O. Russell.
To help promote and bring awareness to Doc Club this month, we’ve been provided with this exclusive clip of the “Silver Linings Playbook” helmer passionately endorsing the doc. “This film completely proves to you that it doesn’t matter if it’s a talking head,” the filmmaker says. “If you’ve got the story… if you’re connecting with the story, I will be riveted.” If you haven’t seen the film yet, you’ll want to investigate after you hear Russell talk about it. An interesting bit of trivia: one of the famous players on the Harvard team? Tommy Lee Jones. No joke. The intro clip and the trailer are below, along with a bit more context about the doc.
On November 23, 1968, Yale and Harvard’s undefeated football teams met in Cambridge, with Yale heavily favored. Contemporary interviews with 30 men who played that day mix with game footage (with instant replay). Led by Brian Dowling and Calvin Hill, Yale goes up 22-0. With less than one minute to play, Yale leads 29-13. For Harvard, the end is exhilarating; for Yale, supreme confidence gives way to a life lesson and to being a small part of football history. Adding context are comments about the Vietnam War, the sexual revolution, Garry Trudeau’s Yale cartoons, and players’ friendships with George W. Bush (Yale), Al Gore (Harvard), and Meryl Streep (Vassar).
“Harvard Beats Yale 29-29” is now available to rent and or buy on SundanceNow.