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1970s Knicks documentary to premiere at Tribeca Film Festival

Knicks guard Walt Frazier. (Sept. 15, 1970)

Knicks guard Walt Frazier. (Sept. 15, 1970) Credit: AP

The Knicks will play in the City on April 17, the day after the NBA regular season ends, just in a different venue and to a different audience than usual.

"When the Garden was Eden," an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary that focuses on the Knicks' championship teams of the early 1970s, will premiere at Tribeca Film Festival that night. It is directed by actor and longtime Knicks fan Michael Rapaport.

The documentary includes interviews with Walt "Clyde" Frazier, Earl Monroe, Willis Reed, Bill Bradley, Phil Jackson and others connected to the team's championship seasons of 1969-70 and 1972-73.

"As a native New Yorker and lifelong Knicks fan it was an honor to explore the championship New York Knick teams," Rapaport said in a statement. "Those players have been a part of my vocabulary since I was a child . . . Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe and Willis Reed are icons of New York."

Rapaport brought another documentary to Tribeca in 2011 with his look at the influential 1990s rap group A Tribe Called Quest titled "Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest."

"When the Garden was Eden" is one of several Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival titles to play at this year's festival. They will screen throughout the two-week festival. All of them will be screened at Tribeca Cinemas on Saturday, April 26 at Sports Day, which is part of the Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair.

Below are the film titles and descriptions as released by Tribeca on Thursday.

"INTRAMURAL," directed by Andrew Disney, written by Bradley Jackson. (USA) - World Premiere, Narrative. There comes a time in every fifth-year senior's life where they must either accept the impending 'real world' of jobs, marriage, and payment plans or shirk that responsibility in favor of playing the most glorious intramural football game your school probably doesn't really care to see. In this full throttle and hilarious send-up of inspirational sports movies, director Andrew Disney harnesses every cliché and overused trope to tell the greatest (and only) intramural sports movie of all time. Featuring an ensemble cast including Kate McKinnon, Jay Pharoah, Jake Lacy, Beck Bennett, and Nikki Reed.

"MARAVILLA," directed and written by Juan Pablo Cadaveira. (Argentina) - International Premiere. A true underdog story, Maravilla follows Argentinian boxer Sergio 'Maravilla' Martinez, as he sets out to reclaim the title of Middleweight champion that was unfairly snatched from him in 2011 by Julio Chavez, Jr. Focusing on the rise of Martinez from penniless amateur to world champion and sporting celebrity, director Juan Pablo Cadaveira offers a fascinating glimpse into today's boxing landscape, revealing the politics of the sporting profession that often places entertainment value over the sport itself. In English and Spanish with subtitles

"SLAYING THE BADGER," directed and written by John Dower. (UK) - World Premiere. Before Lance Armstrong, there was Greg LeMond, who was the first and only American to officially win the Tour de France. In this engrossing documentary, LeMond looks back at the pivotal 1986 Tour, and his increasingly vicious rivalry with friend, teammate, and mentor Bernard Hinault. The reigning Tour champion and brutal competitor known as "The Badger," Hinault 'promised' to help LeMond to his first victory in return for LeMond supporting him in the previous year. But in a sport that purports to reward teamwork, it's really every man for himself.

"CHAMPS," directed by Bert Marcus. (USA) - World Premiere. This insightful and provocative documentary charts the lives of some of America's heaviest hitters--including Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, and Bernard Hopkins--as they seek to break out of poverty via one of the few outlets available. Bert Marcus skillfully weaves their personal histories and gripping footage from their biggest bouts to explore the meaning of the American dream in a society increasingly fragmented between rich and poor.

After the movie: Stay for a conversation with former boxers Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, and boxing promoter Lou DiBella, about life, rivalry, and conflict both inside and out of the ring.


A conversation about the particular art in creating authentic sports stories - from non-fiction material to heart stopping hits that satisfy hardcore fans while also connecting with broader audiences. Featuring director Peter Berg, best known for his hit TV series and film Friday Night Lights and for the recent sports doc series State of Play which illuminates the intersection of sports and sports culture with wider society in 2014 America.

Tribeca Drive-In

"Next Goal Wins," directed by Mike Brett and Steve Jamison. (UK) - World Premiere . When the American Samoan national soccer team suffered the world's worst defeat, losing to Australia 31-0, these tiny islands crash-landed into last place in FIFA world rankings, and became known as "the worst team in the world." More than a decade later, they have not yet won an official match. Next Goal Wins follows their miraculous efforts as they train for the next World Cup. Led by an eccentric new coach, they have a chance to redefine their international reputation.

Special Screening

"THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL," directed and written by Chapman Way and Maclain Way. (USA) - New York Premiere. Bing Russell is best known for his role as Deputy Clem on Bonanza, but he left Hollywood in 1973 to pursue his first love: baseball. Creating the independent Portland Mavericks, his ragtag roster of players that major franchises rejected were baseball's biggest joke. Then they shattered expectations and turned Major League Baseball on its heels in an unheralded story of spirit and rebellion.

30 for 30: Soccer Stories

Followed by a special conversation with filmmakers Ezra Edelman, Daniel Battsek and ESPN about the films and the upcoming World Cup

"THE OPPOSITION," directed by Ezra Edelman and Jeffrey Plunkett (USA/Chile) - World Premiere. In the wake of the 1973 military coup in Chile, American-backed dictator Augusto Pinochet transformed Santiago's National Stadium into a concentration camp where political opponents were tortured and assassinated. Only two months later, that same stadium was scheduled to host a decisive World Cup qualifier between Chile and the Soviet Union. Despite protests, FIFA's own investigation, and the Soviets' eventual boycott, the Chilean team still played the game as planned, qualifying for the 1974 World Cup on a goal scored against no one.

"MARADONA '86" (TBC), directed by Sam Blair, Executive Produced by John Battsek (USA) - World Premiere. In the 1986 World Cup, Diego Armando Maradona redefined what is possible for one man to accomplish on the soccer field. Already a figure of notoriety, but with one failed World Cup behind him, Argentinian Maradona took possession of the international stage in Mexico, the spotlight rarely drifting from him as he wrote an indelible history with his feet and, of course, with a "hand from God." Maradona '86 is a fascinating, evocative, and operatic portrait, revealing Maradona's inner complexity and contradictions while basking in the joy and passion of his performance on the pitch, as he wrote his name into soccer history forever.

Short Film

"TRUE GLADIATORS," directed by Kevin Donovan (USA) - World Premiere. Follows the career of three former American Gladiators and how they deal with the demands of the show, the injuries, and their personal lives.

Jim Kalafat was a tough kid from a small town in Montana who dreamed of playing for the NFL. His prodigious skills as a linebacker led him all the way to the Los Angeles Rams, where he met fellow teammate Dan Clark. After suffering career-ending injuries, the two best friends used their athleticism, broad smiles and gift for gab to become the muscular, ass-kicking, heartthrob stars "Laser" and "Nitro" on the hit '90s television show American Gladiators. Joined by Mr. America 1989, Steve Henneberry, a.k.a. "Tower", the three battle-scarred gladiators reveal what went on behind the scenes of one of the most popular syndicated "sports" shows in history.

New York Sports