Ronaldo (and five of the best sport documentaries)
Documentary filmmaker Asif Kapadia is having a busy month; last week saw the release of Amy, his brilliant but heart-wrenching documentary charting the rise and fall of Amy Winehouse, but this week we'll see another two of his projects arriving in stores. The first of these is Palio (which you can order here), a gripping account of the legendary 'Palio di Siena' horse race that takes place annually through the streets of the Tuscan city; the second follows the story of one of the world's most famous footballers: Cristiano Ronaldo. Hitting the shelves on Monday (November 9th), Ronaldo is produced by Kapadia and directed by Anthony Wonke, a BAFTA-winning filmmaker in his own right whose filmography includes several award-winning current affairs documentaries like Children on the Frontline – Syria and The Battle for Marjah.
Beginning with the Real Madrid forward's early years growing up on the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira, Ronaldo charts his rise through the ranks at Sporting Lisbon, his time wearing the No. 7 shirt at Manchester United and his £80million transfer to Spanish giants Real Madrid, a move that at that time made him the most expensive player in the world. Wonke's film also provides an insight into Ronaldo's private life, offering a view of him as a father and a person as well as chronicling his public life as one of the world's most recognisable sports personalities.
The documentary includes interviews with friends and family, as well as archival footage of a young Ronaldo showing off his impressive skills in the youth team of his first major club, Nacional de Madeira. Shot over 14 months in Madeira, Lisbon, Manchester and Madrid, Ronaldo will obviously appeal to fans of the player and football fans in general, but this is a skilfully assembled and beautifully shot documentary that should also appeal to a wider audience.
You can find the trailer below, beneath that we've picked out five other essential documentaries for sports fans...
Charting the life and career of Brazilian F1 legend Ayrton Senna, this is another of Asif Kapadia's films and one that really is essential viewing for any Formula 1 fans, but even if you're not a fan of motor racing, this is is still one of the most gripping sports documentaries you'll ever see. Kapadia captures the restless pursuit for perfection and limitless ambition of a driver still revered as one of the all-time greats, charting his rise to fame, his rivalry with fellow driver Allain Prost and the effects on the sport of his tragic death at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. Highly recommended.
The Two Escobars
Part of ESPN's '30 for 30' documentary series, this film from brothers Jeff and Michael Zimbalist tackles the bizarre relationship between the Colombian national football team – particularly their captain, Andres Escobar – and his namesake Pablo Escobar, the notorious leader of crime syndicate the Medellin Cartel. The latter's drug money had helped fund the development of the sport in Colombia, making Pablo Escobar an influential figure in football in his home country, but the team's poor performance in qualifying for the 1994 World Cup – not helped by their captain Escobar's own goal in a crucial match against the USA – ultimately led to the player's murder a few weeks later. Examining the intertwined relationship between the team's fortunes and those of their country, this is gripping stuff and a sports documentary like no other.
When We Were Kings
Muhammad Ali's fight with George Foreman has become the stuff of legend, both in the boxing world and the wider public conciousness, transforming Ali into a figure of fame that transcended the sport in which he plied his trade. The then-unbeaten Foreman was a heavy favourite and hardly anyone expected Ali, who was considered past his prime by many, to do anything other than lose – and lose badly. But Ali's victory became more than just a triumph in the ring; Ali had become a symbol of hope for many Africans and Leon Gast's film brilliantly charts the story of the so-called Rumble in the Jungle. For any boxing fans, this is simply unmissable.
Touching the Void
Kevin MacDonald's film follows mountain climbers Simon Yates and Joe Simpson in their disastrous attempt to become the first men to scale the western face of Siula Grande, one of the most difficult mountains to climb in the Peruvian Andes. Although they reached the summit, their descent was fraught with problems and this film details every perilous moment of their journey back down. Even if you're not an enthusiast of the sport, this tale of human endeavour will have you glued to the screen.
TT3D: Closer To The Edge
As motor racing enthusiasts will know, each year the Isle of Man hosts one of the most exciting – and most dangerous – motorbike races anywhere in the world, with competitors racing through the island's streets and villages in an effort to become the 'King of the Mountain'. Of all its competitors, Guy Martin is without question the most famous, being the son of TT legend Ian Martin and having attained more podium finishes than any other racer, despite having never won. Richard De Aragues' film follows Martin's attempts to finish first, examining both this charismatic character, the rivalries and history of the TT, and the sheer dedication and danger each rider must face and overcome in order to compete. Along with Senna, this is one of the finest motor racing documentaries you'll ever witness.