Thursday 22 March 2018

Hold the Back Page: Outsiders have edge in IFTA race

Ronan O'Gara
Ronan O'Gara

Eamonn Sweeney

Chances are that ROG, about you know who, will pick up the best sporting documentary award at the Irish Film and Television Awards on April 5. ROG enjoyed big viewing figures and an overwhelmingly positive response when shown on RTE 1 last month yet I hope plucky outsiders We Got Game and Batmen which join it on the shortlist upset the odds.

That's because ROG for all its merits was such a familiar story you were able to predict what was going to be in it before it was broadcast at all. Indeed that may be why it did so well. These confessional fly-on-the-wall sports documentaries constitute a comfortingly well-worn genre.

But the best of the ESPN 30 for 30 films, which are the gold standard in this field, were the ones which told the audience something they didn't know, or at least didn't know well.

We Got Game, a story of the galvanising effect of American basketball players on the Irish game in the 1980s, was of this ilk. It brought us into new territory, introduced us to voices we hadn't heard before and reminded us of things we'd forgotten. Batmen, about the colourful history of Irish cricket, did the same.

They should be rewarded.

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