McKinnis Sports Documentary Series To Debut at Hot Springs Film Festival

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When it comes to sports cinema in the state of Arkansas, we’re living in a golden age.

In the past few months, we’ve seen the premiere of “The Big Shootout,” a movie about the 1969 showdown between No. 1 Texas and No. 2 Arkansas.  Documentaries about former Razorbacks Jim Lindsey and Mitch Mustain have also had showings. A biopic about another former Razorback, the deceased Brandon Burlsworth, is set to release next year. And now comes word that next month the Hot Springs Film Festival (Oct. 11-20) will debut what may be the nation’s largest sports documentary series linked to a festival.

Hot Springs Film Festival director Courtney Pledger added the award for her festival’s best sports doc will be named after former Razorback great Clyde Scott, who is 89 years old and lives in Little Rock. Scott’s daughter, former Clinton Administration White House special aid Marsha Scott, will present the award on October 19th.

Marsha Scott’s friend, film actor Peter Coyote, is planning to attend the award ceremony, Pledger said. Arkansas-born screen writer Graham Gordy will be one of the judges on the awards panel.

Below are most of the movies to be shown in the festival’s McKinnis Sports Documentary Series. Arkansas producer Jerry McKinnis has been an outdoor sports pioneer for ESPN. There will be one or two more sports movies, plus a yet-to-be announced world premiere on closing night, Pledger added.


From the producers of Oscar-winning docs Undefeated and The Cove, and set in the golden era of Grand Prix Racing, ‘1’ tells the story of a generation of charismatic drivers who raced on the edge, risking their lives during Formula 1’s deadliest period, and the men who stood up and changed the sport forever.

Last Woman Standing

For seven years, amateur boxers and close friends Ariane Fortin and Mary Spencer had fought side by side in different weight categories on Canada’s national team, winning numerous world championships and taking the international boxing scene by storm. But that changed with the historic announcement by the International Olympic Committee that women’s boxing would finally be included in the 2012 London Games. Both women are thrilled at the chance to achieve their Olympic dream, until they discover they will have to compete against each other for the single spot on the Canadian team open in their now-shared weight category. Is this the end of their friendship and the beginning of a fierce rivalry? Last Woman Standing is a riveting look into the hearts and minds of two dedicated, strong, and determined young women as they prepare both mentally and physically for some of the most difficult fights of their careers.


In February 2012, the New York Knicks, mired in a disappointing season and out of desperation, looked to the end of their bench and found Jeremy Lin, an undrafted free agent from Harvard. On the verge of seeing his lifelong NBA dream vanish, Lin – at, or near what was believed to be his last chance as an NBA professional, underwent a now-legendary run, obliterating stereotypes along the way, and in the process birthed a global phenomenon known as “Linsanity.” Basketball — and the world – was never the same.

Mama Called

The life and career of Coach Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant. Portions of the documentary were filmed in Bryant’s hometown of Fordyce, Arkansas.


In America’s basketball heartland, four boys from rural Medora, Indiana fight to end their high school’s team’s losing streak, as their dwindling town faces the threat of extinction.

The Medicine Game

Tucked away in central New York State is the Onondaga Nation, a sovereign Native American community known to produce some of the top lacrosse players in the world. Yet, the fear of leaving their community, substance abuse, and poverty have kept far too many of these players from venturing off the ‘rez’ and into the collegiate or professional ranks. A film six years in the making, The Medicine Game shares the remarkable journey of the Thompson brothers from the Onondaga Nation driven by a single goal; to beat the odds and play lacrosse for national powerhouse Syracuse University. The obstacles in their way are frequent and daunting, but the brothers love for the game and their family’s unyielding determination, propels these boys towards their dream.

Miracle Body

Using cutting-edge video technology and scientific techniques, this sports science series probes the mysteries of top athletes’ astonishing physical abilities. This episode features the fastest man in history: Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt. He submitted himself to an unprecedented full-body scientific analysis that investigated the secret of his almost superhuman speed. It revealed an unorthodox running form that overturns conventional sports science wisdom. This running form is the result of a spinal condition that Bolt was born with-and it actually makes his incredible quickness possible. This episode of Miracle Body shows the unexpected story of how the world’s fastest man had to battle his own body to become a champion, and to push human speed to the next level.

The Big Shootout” Life and Times of 1969

On December 6 1969, in Fayetteville, AR, Texas and Arkansas met in the “game of the century” in celebration of the 100 Secret Service men overlooking his 35 yard line seat, President Nixon was there, bringing along George Bush for company. Civil rights and war protestors were there. Fifty million watched on TV including LBJ. Bill Clinton listened on short wave radio in England. More than a game, 1969 was more than a year. This journey provides a glimpse of one of America’s most iconic football games and most fascinating periods, featuring interviews with Beano Cook, players, politicians, professors and protestors. Darrell Royal appears in his final interview and Frank Broyles discusses the Shoot Out for the first time since that day in 1969.

The Identity Theft of Mitch Mustain

In 2005, Mitch Mustain was the most decorated high school football player in all of America. Named the first ever consensus Gatorade, Parade, and USA Today Player of the Year, Mustain grabbed the spotlight from future NFL players such as Tim Tebow and Matthew Stafford. At the age of seventeen, USA Today ordained Mustain as “Football’s Future”. He was destined to become a gamechanging college and pro quarterback. Unfortunately, football was not the only thing Mitch saw in his future, and while the game came easy to Mitch, finding joy in the game eventually became a job. The film, narrated by Nolan Richardson, follows Mitch’s present-day struggle to find balance between who he once was, and who he now wants to be.

The Short Game

Each year, the world’s best 7 year-old golfers descend on Pinehurst, North Carolina to compete in the World Championships of Junior Golf. THE SHORT GAME follows eight of these very young athletes on their quest to become the sport’s next phenom.

The Trials of Muhammed Ali

The Trials of Muhammad Ali covers the explosive crossroads of Ali’s life. When Cassius Clay becomes Muhammad Ali, his conversion to Islam and refusal to serve in the Vietnam War leave him banned from boxing and facing a five-year prison sentence. Ali’s choice of belief and conscience over fame and fortune resonates far beyond the boxing ring, striking issues of race, faith and identity that continue to confront us all today.


Undefeated is a documentary on an underdog football team – Manassas Tigers – who look to reverse their fortunes with coach Bill Courtney as they strive to win the first playoff game in the high school’s 110-year history.

Sports Shorts

Before Babe: The Women Who Changed Golf

May 1929, on the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland, Glenna Collett, 3-time U.S. Women’s national golf champion, competes in the final round of the Ladies’ British National Championship with 3-time British national champion Joyce Wethered in what is still considered one of the great golf matches of all time. Before 1932 Olympics legend Babe Didrikson appeared on the golf scene, there were Americans Alexa Stirling, Marion Hollins, Glenna Collett and Edith Cummings. They believed in hard-hitting and with their counterparts in Britain and France, changed the way women play golf. Through the game, these women lived exceptional lives, formed friendships that lasted a lifetime, and showed other women another way to live. Before Babe will chronicle their largely unknown contributions to women’s sports.

I Beat Mike Tyson

Boxer Kevin McBride represented Ireland in the 1992 Olympics, won a number of professional bouts and beat former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. But since then, not much has gone his way. Will he hang up his gloves with his potential unfulfilled? Director Josh Weinstein lets the battered pugilist tell us how hard it is to lose the only thing he ever wanted.

In the Blood

Despite having a title-winning dad, Lucy Murphy found her way to boxing independently. The tough as nails former champion supports his daughter’s decision, training her without special treatment. Fueled by fierce determination and focus, a mutual respect tenderly surrounds their iron-willed world.

No Ordinary Passenger

This is the story of an 87 year old man, Stan Dibben, who won World Sidecar Championships in 1953. He was the ‘passenger’ riding on the sidecar, and he explains how the word ‘passenger’ is such a misnomer for the bravery and athleticism required to do such a skillful occupation. We watch footage of his racing days, including the biggest race of the year at The Belgian Grand Prix in Spa in 1953, which he won by a wheel’s length to be crowned world champion. Also a story about joie-de-vivre, Stan gets back on a modern sidecar outfit at the ripe age of 87 and does a few laps to show he’s still got it.

The Jim Lindsey Story

Jim Lindsey won a national championship, became an NFL captain, and built a thriving real-estate empire across the South. Narrated by Jerry Jones, this film covers one of the most accomplished athletes in Arkansas history.

The Roper

Kendrick is a young, black calf roper grafting through the local, all-white rodeo circuits of the southern United States. Soft spoken and gentlemanly, roping is Kendrick’s singular focus, his ‘good addiction’. He practices long into the night and is happiest when he is on the road to a competition. Before each rodeo he prays for the safety of his horse and himself, and to win a check. Ever since he was a boy he has dreamed to one day making it to the National Rodeo Finals in Las Vegas. This is the beginning of that story.

Wilt Chamberlain: Borscht Belt Bellhop

Before his senior year of high school, Wilt Chamberlain took a summer job at Kutsher’s Country Club, a Jewish resort in the Catskills. By day, he was making $2 an hour. At night, he played on Kutsher’s basketball team, coached by its then unknown athletic director, Red Auerbach. Mixing interviews with rarely seen archival video, this documentary captures a basketball great in a very different era, the Borscht Belt’s Dirty Dancing-styled heyday.

Visit here for trailers of these movies.

Lamentably, Demirel doesn’t dirty dance and doesn’t wear a Borscht Belt. He Tweets though.

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