Must-watch Lance Armstrong and Bruce Lee docos from ESPN

• The feature specials headline 30 for 30 series premieres

ESPN Films’ Academy Award-winning 30 for 30 series is premiering three new documentaries, two of which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, that will air on Monday nights in May and June.

ESPN will air 30 for 30s Lance, Be Water and Long Gone Summer which was an official selection to the Tribeca Film Festival.

Leading the slate on Monday, May 25 at 9pm AEST on ESPN will be part one of the two-part film, Lance, which features unprecedented access to Lance Armstrong through raw interviews and personal perspective on his full story, the inspiring rise and dramatic fall from grace.

Lance is directed by Marina Zenovich (Fantastic Lies, Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind). Part two will premiere the following Monday, June 1 at 9pm AEST.

Bao Nguyen’s film Be Water, an intimate and very personal look at the life and purpose that motivated Bruce Lee, the martial artist trailblazer and pop culture icon, will debut on Monday, June 8 at 9pm AEST. Both films received acclaim at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Finally, on Monday June 15 at 9pm AEST AJ Schnack’s, Long Gone Summer, an official selection of the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival, chronicles Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s storied 1998 home run chase following the 1994 MLB strike. For the first time, both men discuss that summer at length, including its lasting legacy and undeniable complications.

Libby Geist, Vice President & Executive Producer, ESPN Films and Original Content said,

“It’s a great feeling to bring three more epic documentary projects to sports fans who so need it right now. Moving up these films is no easy task, but it’s absolutely worth the effort to get them on the air for audiences to experience together. It’s a mix of fascinating topics, compelling characters and some of the absolute best storytelling our team has cranked out. The whole ESPN Films team is working hard to entertain fans while we wait for live sports to return and give them a distraction while we go through these hard times.”

30 for 3 Film Summaries and Dates:

Lance directed by Marina Zenovich

Part 1: Monday, May 25, 9m AEST on ESPN
Part 2: Monday, June 1, 9pm AEST on ESPN

From acclaimed director Marina Zenovich, Lance is a fascinating, revealing, comprehensive, chronicle of one of the most inspirational – and then infamous – athletes of all time. Based around extensive interviews and conversations with Lance Armstrong, the two-part, four-hour film tells the story of the cyclist’s rise out of Texas as a young superstar cyclist; his harrowing battle with testicular cancer; his recovery and emergence as a global icon with his seven consecutive Tour de France titles; and then his massive fall after he was exposed in one of the largest doping scandals in history.

Armstrong, along with a collection of family, teammates, friends, rivals, and journalists, all reflect on his story, creating a fascinating character study, capturing a unique chapter of sports history, and insisting the audience make its own interpretations about the many different sides of a complex saga.

Be Water directed by Bao Nguyen

Monday, June 8, 9pm AEST on ESPN

In 1971, after being rejected by Hollywood, Bruce Lee returned to his parents’ homeland, Hong Kong. Over the next two years, he’d complete four iconic films that would define his legacy, a legacy cut short when he died, stunningly, in the summer of 1973. He was 32 years old.

Be Water is a gripping, fascinating, intimate look at not just those final, defining years of Lee’s life, but the complex, often difficult, and seismic journey that led to Lee’s ultimate emergence as a singular icon in the histories of film, martial arts, and even the connection between the eastern and western worlds.

The film chronicles Lee’s earliest days, as the son of a Chinese opera star born while his father was on tour in San Francisco, and then raised in Hong Kong over what became an at times troubled childhood. Sent to live in America at the age of 18, he began teaching Kung Fu in Seattle, and established a following that included his future wife, Linda. His ambition ever rising, Lee eventually made his way to Los Angeles, where he strove to break into American film and television. There, despite some success as a fight choreographer and actor, it was clear Hollywood wasn’t ready for an Asian leading man – and so he returned to Hong Kong to make the films that would in fact make him a legend, his international star skyrocketing just as his life was cut short.

Be Water is told entirely by the family, friends, and collaborators who knew Bruce Lee best, with an extraordinary trove of archive film providing an evocative, immersive visual tapestry that captures Lee’s charisma, his passion, his philosophy, and the eternal beauty and wonder of his art.

Long Gone Summer directed by AJ Schnack

Monday, June 15, 9pm AEST on ESPN

It was one of the most memorable and significant seasons in the history of baseball. In the summer of 1998, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Mark McGwire and the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa embarked on a chase of one of the game’s most hallowed records, igniting the passion and imagination of fans and non-fans everywhere. The drama, excitement, and results would be remembered for generations. If we only knew then just how complex our feelings about it all would eventually become.

In ESPN’s new 30 for 30 film Long Gone Summer, director AJ Schnack takes viewers back to the landmark 1998 baseball season – its tremendous highlights, massive impact, and undeniable complications. Featuring in-depth interviews with both McGwire and Sosa, talking at length for the first time in over two decades, the intimate portrait carries viewers through every twist and turn of the sluggers’ historic chase of Roger Maris’s iconic record of 61 home runs in a single season. With a musical score composed by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, a St. Louis-area native and current Chicago resident, the film is a journey back through time that recalls how seismic and emotional the story was – even as the legitimacy of the accomplishments at its center would later be called into question.

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