Watchdog

Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

ESPN revisits Renee Richards

Aaron Cohen, a producer of the documentary "Renee," welcomed the audience at a screening Wednesday night by thanking us for coming out on a big sports night.

Then again, he added, most likely there was little overlap among people interested in the NFL Draft and people interested in coming out to see a film about Renee Richards.

Such are the quirky charms of the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival, currently wrapping up its fifth edition.

In a desperate attempt to catch up on this year's films after covering the Knicks last week, I went to Manhattan Thursday to check out the remaining six after seeing "Catching Hell," about Steve Bartman, at its premiere Saturday night.

I only ended up seeing five of the six. "Fire in Babylon," a cricket movie, will have to wait for another day. I took my daughter with me for my marathon day in recognition of "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day," and the 9:45 p.m. start time was a bit much for a school night.

Let's start with "Renee," because it is the one you are most likely to get to see. ESPN will be showing it later this year.

Those of us over 45 or so will recall the strange case of Richard Raskind, a respected doctor and amateur tennis player who rocked the world of pro tennis by playing against women after undergoing a sex change operation.

Richards remains a compelling and enigmatic personality, and her relationship with her troubled son is a constant reminder of the risk she took back in the '70s and how it affected those closest to her.

The film features a series of interviews with Raskind/Richards' friends and colleagues from the time she made her decision. They are not shy about expressing their reservations now, just as they did then.

Richards' sister still has not accepted the action, and insists on calling her brother "him," not "her." 

Tags: Tribeca Film Festival

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