SONY ESPN channels present award-winning ESPN Films documentaries back-to-back on Republic Day

~ Critically acclaimed documentary series to be shown on SONY ESPN and SONY ESPN HD channels starting 12 pm on Thursday, January 26, 2017 ~

Mumbai, 25 January 2017:  This Republic Day, ESPN and Sony Pictures Network will showcase seven of its critically-acclaimed, Emmy and Peabody Award-winning series of ESPN Films documentaries on SONY ESPN and SONY ESPN HD channels back-to-back. This is the first time; a sports channel will telecast seven documentaries on a single day giving fans a chance to sit back, relax and binge on them over eight hours.

SONY ESPN channels present award-winning ESPN Films documentaries back-to-back on Republic Day

ESPN Films is a series that discovers themes beyond sports. The series aims to reform the art of the sports documentary in collaboration with a diverse range of prolific filmmakers. The documentaries consist of varied stories from the world of sports highlighting athletes, events and intersections with society at large. With topics ranging from Nelson Mandela’s embrace of the 1995 Rugby World Cup as a force for racial unity, to the rise and fall of Pablo and Andres Escobar during the “Narco-Soccer” era in Colombia, to the bravado and fool hardy courage of Muhammad Ali in his twilight, fighting to hold on to greatness – the range and poignancy of stories is timeless and will appeal to any Indian viewer who loves great storytelling.

Below is the list of documentary films scheduled for Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Two Escobars
Jeff and Michael Zimbalist
12 pm
Muhammad & Larry
Albert Maysles and Bradley Kaplan
2 pm
The Real Rocky
Jeff Feuerzeig
3 pm
Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern Winters
4 pm
The Opposition
Ezra Edelman
5 pm
Maradona ‘86
Sam Blair
5.30 pm
The 16th Man
Cliff Bestall
6 pm

ESPN Films launched in March 2008 and has been an industry leader in documentary filmmaking since its inception, producing more than 100 documentaries that have showcased some of the most compelling stories in sports.


India is a key part of ESPN’s growth – in the Asia-Pacific region and globally – and its presence in the country is powered by the potent combination of ESPN’s leadership in digital sports and its long-term SONY ESPN collaboration with Sony Pictures Networks India.

Serving the massive and vibrant sports fan community with entertaining, insightful and high-quality products and content, across digital devices and television, is at the core of ESPN’s strategy in India and the subcontinent. With offices in Bangalore and Mumbai, it boasts a world-class team that includes technologists, developers, editors, journalists and more that make up ESPN’s largest technology and digital editorial teams outside the United States.

ESPNcricinfo, already the ultimate destination for authentic, unbiased cricket news, analysis, statistics and scores, continues serving Indian cricket fans as it has for over 23 years.

About the Sports Cluster, Sony Pictures Networks India:  
SONY SIX, India’s Premier Sports Entertainment Channel, was launched in 2012 and is the first sports channel owned and operated by Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN). In January 2016, SPN expanded its sports cluster in collaboration with ESPN to launch the SONY ESPN cluster of channels.

The Sports cluster of Sony Pictures Networks India has rights to broadcast some exclusive domestic  and international sporting content including; The VIVO IPL, 2014 FIFA World Cup™, UEFA EURO 2016, Qualifiers for UEFA EURO 2016, European Qualifiers for 2018 FIFA World Cup™, 2018 FIFA World Cup™, The Emirates FA Cup, LaLiga Santander, Tim Serie A, Copa America, The Australian Open, ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events, ATP World Tour 500 events, ATP World Tour Finals, The Champions Tennis League, The NBA, TNA IMPACT WRESTLING and The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). 


ESPN Films Documentaries

“The Two Escobars”
Directed by Jeff and Michael Zimbalist – at 12noon

While rival drug cartels warred in the streets and the country's murder rate climbed to highest in the world, the Colombian national soccer team set out to blaze a new image for their country. What followed was a mysteriously rapid rise to glory, as the team catapulted out of decades of obscurity to become one of the best teams in the world. Central to this success were two men named Escobar: Andrés, the captain and poster child of the National Team, and Pablo, the infamous drug baron who pioneered the phenomenon known in the underworld as "Narco-soccer." But just when Colombia was expected to win the 1994 World Cup and transform its international image, the shocking murder of Andres Escobar dashed the hopes of a nation.

Through the glory and the tragedy, The Two Escobars daringly investigates the secret marriage of crime and sport, and uncovers the surprising connections between the murders of Andres and Pablo.

“Muhammad and Larry”
Directed by Albert Maysles and Bradley Kaplan – at 2 pm

In October of 1980 Muhammad Ali was preparing to fight for an unprecedented fourth heavyweight title against his friend and former sparring partner Larry Holmes. To say that the great Ali was in the twilight of his career would be generous; most of his admiring fans, friends and fight scribes considered his bravado delusional. What was left for him to prove?

In the weeks of training before the fight, documentarians Albert and David Maysles took an intimate look at Ali trying to convince the world and perhaps himself, that he was still "The Greatest." At the same time, they documented the mild-mannered and undervalued champion Holmes as he confidently prepared to put an end to the career of a man for whom he had an abiding and deep affection.

In the raw moments after Ali's humbling in this one-sided fight, it was not fully comprehended what the Maysles brothers had actually captured on film and, due to unexpected circumstances, the Maysles footage never received a public screening or airing. However, in the intervening years, the magnitude of this footage is now clear. An era ended when the braggadocio and confidence were stripped away in the ring, and one of the world's
greatest sports heroes was revealed to be a man. Here is the previously unseen build up to that fight, accompanied by freshly shot interviews by Albert Maysles with members from both the Ali and Holmes camps, as well as others who were prime witnesses to this poignant foolhardy attempt at courage.

“The Real Rocky”
Directed by Jeff Feuerzeig – at 3 pm

The "Real Rocky" is Chuck Wepner -- a liquor salesman from Bayonne, N.J., who drives a Cadillac with "Champ" vanity plates. A former New Jersey state heavyweight boxing champion, he was christened with the nickname "The Bayonne Bleeder" for the abuse he suffered at the hands of Sonny Liston. In 1975, Wepner fought Muhammad Ali for the world heavyweight title. In the 15th round, Ali knocked out Wepner after breaking his nose and opening cuts over both eyes. Sylvester Stallone wrote a screenplay, and starred in and won three Academy Awards (including best picture) for the film "Rocky," based on Wepner's gutsy challenge. Wepner was left out of the "Rocky" glory, and his career took turn after strange turn as he worked to stay in the spotlight. He went on to fight Andre the Giant as "The Assassin" and boxed a 900-pound Kodiak bear. Twice. Using too-good-to-be-true footage, Jeff Feuerzeig ("The Devil and Daniel Johnston") and Mike Tollin will explore the colorful life and bloodied career of this unique New Jersey character.

Directed and Produced by Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern Winters; Co-Produced by Hannah Storm – at 4 pm

The first time Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova stepped onto a tennis court together, the world scarcely noticed. Only a few hundred spectators saw the pert 18-year-old beat the scrappy 16-year-old Czech in 1973. "I remember that she was fat," Evert recalled. "She was very emotional on the court, whining if she didn't feel she was playing well. But I remember thinking, if she loses weight, we're all in trouble." Said Navratilova, "My goal was for her to remember my name." Eighty matches later -- amid the extraordinary growth of women's tennis -- Evert not only remembered, but became a tried and true friend and confidante, remarkable considering the two appeared to be polar opposites in upbringing, life styles and personal relationships. Through a series of personal conversations, filmmakers Nancy Stern Winters and Lisa Lax, along with producer Hannah Storm, tell the story of one of the greatest one-on-one sports rivalries and capture these two extraordinary athletes' views on tennis and an ever-changing world.

“The Opposition”
Directed by Ezra Edelman

The Opposition is short film about one of the darkest chapters in the history of international soccer.  In the wake of the 1973 military coup in Chile, American-backed dictator Augusto Pinochet transformed the National Stadium into a detention camp where political opponents were tortured and assassinated.  Only months later, that same stadium was scheduled to host a decisive World Cup qualifier between Chile and the Soviet Union.  Despite protests, FIFA's own investigation, and the Soviet's eventual boycott, the Chilean team still played the game as planned, qualifying for the 1974 World Cup on a goal scored against no one. 

“Maradona ’86”
Directed by Sam Blair – at 5.30 pm

In the 1986 World Cup, Diego Maradona, the world's greatest football player, reached his apotheosis, redefining what is possible for one man to accomplish on a football pitch. His ability to take control of the ball -- the game -- an entire tournament -- split the world in two.

It was both illuminating and an affront, beguiling and an outrage, and the fervor that surrounded him was unprecedented, bordering on the religious. Constructed from archive material, "Maradona '86" is an ode to this ultimate footballing idol, basking in the operatic intensity of his performance in Mexico as he wrote his name on football history forever.

The 16th Man”
directed by Cliff Bestall and narrated by Morgan Freeman – at 6 pm

Rugby has long been viewed in South Africa as a game for the white population, and the country’s success in the sport has been a true source of Afrikaner pride. When the 50-year-old policies and entrenched injustices of apartheid were finally overthrown in 1994, Nelson Mandela’s new government began rebuilding a nation badly in need of racial unity. So the world was watching when South Africa played host to the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Though they had only one non-white player, the South African Springboks gained supporters of all colors as they made an improbable run into the final match where they beat the heavily favored New Zealand team. When Mandela himself marched to the center of the pitch cloaked in a Springbok jersey and shook hands with the captain of the

South African team, two nations became one. Oscar winner Morgan Freeman and director Cliff Bestall will tell the emotional story of that cornerstone moment and what it meant to South Africa’s healing process.