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August 29, 2013

'42' to lead off Film Festival lineup

The Daily Star

---- — With the release of Legendary Entertainment’s landmark film “42” this spring, the worlds of movies and baseball came together for fans across the globe.

Now Cooperstown visitors will have a chance to celebrate producer Thomas Tull’s epic work at the 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame Film Festival. The Film Festival will get under way at 7 p.m.  Friday, Sept. 27 with a screening of “42”, which has earned praise from critics and fans for its portrayal of Jackie Robinson’s groundbreaking path to the big leagues.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will recognize the twin traditions of baseball and film when, for the eighth consecutive year, it hosts the Baseball Film Festival in Cooperstown, Sept. 27-29. Eleven films, with themes ranging from legendary fan Johnny Sylvester to the inspiring play of Beep Ball athletes, will be screened on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 27, 28 and 29, as filmmakers and fans celebrate the timeless connection between baseball and the big screen. All films will be shown in the Hall of Fame’s Grandstand Theater and Bullpen Theater.

Tickets for the screening of Film Festival entries, including “42”, are free of charge but limited and must be reserved. Admission to the museum is required for films shown during regular hours. Members can reserve their tickets starting Sept. 9, and any remaining seats will be made available to the general public beginning Sept. 23 by calling the membership department at 547-0397 or visiting the membership desk in the museum.

Films are shown during six blocks throughout the weekend. A complete list of the films to be screened during the weekend includes:

Opening Film

Friday, Sept. 27, 7 p.m., Grandstand Theater

42 (128 min.)

In 1946, Jackie Robinson is a Negro League baseball player who never takes racism lying down. Branch Rickey is a Major League executive with a bold idea. Rickey recruits Robinson to break the unspoken color line as the first modern African-American big league player. As both anticipate, this proves a major challenge for Robinson and his family as they endure unrelenting racist hostility on and off the field, from players and fans alike. As Robinson struggles against his nature to endure such abuse without complaint, he finds allies and hope where he least expects it.

Session 1

Saturday, Sept. 28, 10 a.m., Bullpen Theater

Cards Against the Wall (9 min.)

“Cards Against a Wall” celebrates the lives of three of the greatest names in baseball. Shoeless Joe Jackson, Van Lingle Mungo and Bobo Newsom may not be in the Hall of Fame but the three have memorable names. And all three were South Carolinians. Storyteller Alex Sanders takes us back to the golden age of baseball when big league ballplayers made big impressions. And these Carolina ballplayers were special on and off the ball field. Directed by Tim Fennell, produced by Dave Brown, Tim Fennell and Brooks Quinn. Based on a short story by Alex Sanders.

The Renegades: A Beep Ball Story (72 min.)

“The Renegades: A Beep Ball Story” is about the awe-inspiring sport of beep ball that has blind athletes hitting baseballs and diving headlong into the bases. Beyond the games, it’s about the people and their stories. The film looks at hope, heartache and what it means to play as a team. We see what it’s like at home and at work for some players and find why the team’s only female player can’t get enough of this sport. Mix in a fierce New York/Boston rivalry, an international World Series, the drama of a particular player’s hopes of making the team and a coach whose style can only be described as “tough love” and you have non-fiction entertainment at its best.

Session 2

Saturday, Sept. 28, 2 p.m., Bullpen Theater

Holy Grail (14 min.)

The T206 Honus Wagner is the most famous baseball card in the world, but does its value really lie in the eye of the beholder? This film deals with the mystery and intrigue surrounding the most lucrative collectible in all of sport. The film features interviews with card experts and enthusiasts including Keith Olbermann. Directed by Nick and Colin Barnicle.

Hitting for the Cycle (103 min.)

A few years ago, Major League baseball player Jimmy “Rip” Ripley was at the top of his game. But now he finds himself back in the minors after a debilitating knee injury has left him struggling to make it back to the “show.” Caught off-guard by the news that his club is cutting him, he also receives word that his estranged father is gravely ill. With nowhere else to turn, Ripley reluctantly revisits his long-forgotten hometown to finally come face-to-face with the father he hasn’t seen or spoken to since he was 18 years old.

Session 3

Saturday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m., Bullpen Theater

La Hazana Del 41 (52 min.)

On Oct. 22, 1941, a group of young Venezuelan baseball players achieved the unthinkable: Taking the world title away from the eternal champion, Cuba. These young men put Venezuela’s name on the international baseball map, and became national heroes. This documentary pays tribute to these Venezuelan sports icon by telling their story, their achievements, and revealing their enormous influence on the ascension of baseball as the king of all sports in Venezuela.

The Only Real Game (82 min.)

“The Only Real Game” explores the power of baseball for people in a troubled, distant place. The small, once princely state of Manipur joined the Indian Union under pressure in 1949 triggering a corrosive separatist conflict that continues to this day. With paltry infrastructure, widespread corruption and unemployment it’s an astonishing place to find reservoirs of inner strength that are tapped in pursuit of our National Pastime. Even more surprising in a deeply patriarchal society is that women are a driving cultural force. Though Manipur has been closed to the outside world for 60 years, baseball delivers release from daily struggles, and a dream for healing a wounded society. Dreams chase reality when First Pitch, a small group of baseball-loving New Yorkers, and two Major League Baseball Envoy coaches team up with Manipuri men, women and children to “Play Ball.”

Session 4

Sunday, Sept. 29, 10 a.m., Bullpen Theater

I’ll Knock a Homer for You: The Timeless Story of Johnny Sylvester and Babe Ruth (46 min.)

During the World Series of 1926, one of the most enduring baseball legends occurred that has been shrouded in mystique for almost a century. Babe Ruth, at the height of his popularity, promised to hit a home run during Game 4 for an ailing boy named Johnny Sylvester. Ruth delivered on his promise, and one of the most famous human-interest stories was given life. To this day, the story of Babe and Johnny has reached mythic proportions in America’s popular culture. Through rare interviews with Johnny himself and people familiar with the events, this film will shed light on this amazing story of triumph.

Not Exactly Cooperstown (68 min.)

Quick: Name the baseball hall of fame that allows fans to vote. It’s a hall that has room for players like Curt Flood, Jim Bouton, Jimmy Piersall, Josh Gibson, Maury Wills, Bill Buckner, Bill “Spaceman” Lee, Jim Abbott, “Shoeless Joe Jackson and Dock Ellis. And there’s room for more than players. There’s a labor leader (Marvin Miller), umpires (Emmett Ashford and Pam Postema), a maverick owner (Bill Veeck), a surgeon (Dr. Frank Jobe), and even a chicken (The San Diego Chicken). Give up? It’s the Baseball Reliquary, and it’s not exactly Cooperstown.

Session 5

Sunday, Sept. 29, 2 p.m., Bullpen Theater

Eddie the Fan (5 min.)

“Eddie the Fan” is a piece about a young fan named Eddie who attends the Reds/Dodgers game in which the division title is on the line. Told in Seuss-like style, we see the experience of attending a Major League Baseball game through the eyes of a delightful 4-year old baseball fanatic.

The Booth (88 min.)

“The Booth” is a feature length documentary about Major League Baseball Broadcasters. The film is interview driven and features 30 of the top broadcasters in the game including several Ford C. Frick Award Winners. “The Booth” looks at what it takes to become a broadcaster and how to stay a broadcaster. The viewer will get a peek into the relationships and experiences in way not seen before.

For movies shown during Session 3 on Sept. 28, visitors must use the entrance to the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Library building located in Cooper Park.