Television

Sony brings ESPN Films' iconic sports documentaries

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MUMBAI: ESPN Films, known for producing award-winning sports films and documentaries, has tied up with Sony Pictures Network (SPN) to bring some compelling sports stories to India. The initiative starts 27 November 2016 on Sony ESPN and Sony ESPN HD channels.

The series will debut in India with `The Two Escobars’. Directed by the Zimbalists, it tells the tale of two men named Escobar --- Andrés, the captain and poster child of Colombia’s national team, and Pablo, the infamous drug baron who pioneered the phenomenon known in the underworld as `narco-soccer'.

Appearing for the first time in India, the critically-acclaimed, Emmy and Peabody Award-winning series of documentaries bring to viewers a thoughtful and innovative examination of the sports world, its characters, events and intersections with society at large where stories are told by filmmakers in partnership with ESPN.

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 foolhardy courage of Muhammad Ali in his twilight years, fighting to hold on to greatness, the range and poignancy of stories are timeless and should appeal to Indian viewers who love great storytelling.

Addressing the media here on Tuesday at a special screening of one such film, ESPN India and South Asia head and vice president Ramesh Kumar said, “Part of what has always distinguished ESPN is that we do not only cover the games, we cover the ‘game around the game’ and we do it as storytellers. These films go beyond sports and engage viewers with compelling, often unknown or previously unseen, narratives that capture the power, emotion and poignancy of sports in our lives.”

Often credited with revitalizing and revolutionizing the art of sports documentary, ESPN Films projects are brought to life by a roster of gifted filmmakers collaborating with ESPN. Among those who have created films for the series are Jeff & Michael Zimbalist, Clifford Bestall, Albert Maysles, Barry Levinson, Bradley Kaplan, Brett Ratner, Spike Jonze, John Singleton, Brian Koppleman, Michael Rappaport, Daniel Gordon, Alex Gibney, Eric Drath, Ezra Edelman and many more.

Commenting on the launch, SPN India Sports Cluster Business Head and EVP Prasana Krishnan said, “Some of the most inspiring stories in the world have come from sports. We are showcasing a collection of award-winning ESPN Films documentary series for the first time in India that is sure to appeal to both die-hard sports fans as well as people who don't know much about sports. The ESPN films are a differentiated offering from Sony ESPN channels that comprise legendary human interest stories that will give our viewers an opportunity to relive some of the greatest moments in the history of sports.”

ESPN Films was 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.

Speaking to indiantelevision.com, ESPN India Television Initiatives Head Jasdeep Pannu said, "Times are changing in India and sports is becoming extremely relevant. Also, this is the kind of content that you will not find anywhere in the world. The content appeals to sports fans as well those passionate about films.”

Pointing out that to promote and market these films campaigns are being run on Sony’s in-house TV channels, Pannu said. “We are also cross promoting the films on our regular channels on digital media like ESPN.com, cricinfo, etc.”

Films like `The 16th Man’, `Muhammad and Lary’, `Maradona’, `The Real Rocky’, `Into the Wind’, `Little Master’ and `Unmatched’ are among the few productions that will be telecasted on Sony ESPN and Sony ESPN HD every Sunday noon.

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