Sunday, June 8, 2008

Israel baseball doco gets film festival premiere

These past ten months or so that we've been bringing you comprehensive coverage of the rise and fall of the Israel Baseball League, there have been, in the background, a team of filmmakers crafting a nonfiction film about the league's creation and the work going into the launch. Now, Holy Land Hardball is complete, and will have its world premiere on June 19th, at the world premiere at the Silverdocs AFI/Discovery Channel Film Festival in Silver Spring, Maryland (outside Washington, DC) on June 19th and June 22nd (a week before the world premiere of The Seventh Python in Hollywood!).

Surely the film will have an added poignancy and audience members in the know will be watching league founder Larry Baras with a skeptical eye in light of the events that would come to pass after the optimistic months covered on film.

Here's what the Silverdoc site has to say about the film from directors Erik Kestin and Brett Rapkin:

USA, 2008, 84 Minutes, English with English subtitles
World Premiere

You don’t have to be Jewish to love HOLY LAND HARDBALL. You don’t even have to like baseball. You just have to believe in the power of holding on to your hopes and dreams and overcoming impossible odds.

HOLY LAND HARDBALL follows the unlikely formation of the Israel Baseball League by Larry Baras, a bakery owner from Boston with no prior sports management experience. In his effort to bring America’s pastime to the Israeli people, Baras recruits 120 diverse ballplayers for the IBL. Among them are a 41-year-old father with a Peter Pan complex; a 27-year-old aspiring writer/artist/musician still disappointed that he was not drafted out of college; a 34-year-old father-to-be whose own father, now deceased, fought for Israel’s independence in 1948; and a 22-year-old African-American who was told by a preacher that he would one day “play in front of God’s people.”

Baras and his recruits have the challenging task of drawing the Israeli people to a sport they’ve gone 5,767 years without. Add a skeptical Israeli media, disgruntled players, delayed stadium preparations, customs snafus, and a rapidly approaching Opening Day, and there is one question Baras must ask himself: If I build it, will they come?

Brett Rapkin and Erik Kesten have created an immensely entertaining documentary, which shows a side of the Middle East far from the news headlines— one of peace, normalcy and discovering the joys of the great American pastime. Bo Nis’chak B’kadur! (Translation: Let’s play ball!)

—Jeff Krulik

We're told Our Man Elli in Israel appears in the doco.

Readers in the Washington, DC area or anyone who's seen the film-- please send us your reviews-- of the film and Elli. We'll post the mainstream press notices.

And to the filmmakers, we say: Mazel tov!

(See a trailer here.)

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